“Good will alone is not enough; it must also be put into practice.” - Saint Julie
The mission of the Academy of Notre Dame de Namur includes inspiration to live the prophetic nature of the gospel with a passion for justice and love for the poor. This is the heart of the Academy's service program, where our students are encouraged to go into the world and encounter the most vulnerable. St. Julie Billiart's vision was to educate women with hearts as wide as the world. Encountering others in service and reflection is just one way that we uphold her vision today.
We believe that individuals have an inherent responsibility to embrace the ideals of service and stewardship, and that the unique gifts of each individual, nurtured and celebrated, serve the community and the world. It is in this spirit that we encourage our students to find causes and organizations for which they are passionate and dedicate their time to advancing the work of these organizations.
1. Identify, analyze and act on systems of injustice.
To be women inspired to create change, we need to understand the systems of injustice in the world. The only way to begin to understand these systems is to go into them. We know that the work we do now through our service may not solve systemic problems, but serve as a beginning to addressing them. We will continue to reflect and learn, working with those who experience injustice to create a more just world.
2. Share our resources with our community.
As a Catholic institution that is fortunate to have many resources and talents, it is our obligation to share them with others. We are called to give our time and talents to our neighbors in the greater Philadelphia area and across the world.
3. Form honorable and compassionate global citizens.
Through encounters with difference, we grow in empathy and compassion. Service requires us to put our own needs aside and focus on others. If we continue this practice, we will grow to be women informed about the world and committed to its future.
Upper school students are required to complete 60 credits of service in order to graduate. These credits can be earned in two ways:
- Direct Service: Encountering people from marginalized groups and serving them directly, like serving food at a soup kitchen or volunteering at a nursing home. Direct service hours count for 2 credits per hour. For example, if a student served at a homeless shelter for 2 hours, she would receive 4 credits.
- Indirect Service: Doing work for organizations that directly serve people from marginalized groups, like sorting food in a food pantry or volunteering for a 5K for a women's shelter. Indirect service hours count for 1 credit per hour. For example, if a student sorted food for an hour, she would receive 1 service credit.
Catholicism calls us to serve our brothers and sisters by going to the margins and meeting those that our society considers to be the "less than" is at the heart of our service program. It is for this reason that at least 10 credits need to be completed through direct service in order to graduate.
A student's service hours need to be completed by Spring Break of her senior year. In order to track these hours, students must submit the necessary form within 30 days of the act of service being completed. The form requires a picture of the student at the service site so don't forget to snap a photo of you (and only you!) while you're there.
While we do not have a list of organizations that are approved for students to serve, we encourage our students to:
- Serve organizations, not individuals: in order to gain an understanding of the systems of injustice connected to any specific cause, we want our students to learn from organizations dedicated to addressing injustice.
- Serve people from marginalized groups: we are called to build the Kingdom of God for one another. Because of this, we want our students to do person-centered service. This means that service with animals will not be counted until after a student has completed her graduation. Marginalized groups include, but are not limited to, the poor, elderly and differently abled.
If you have any questions about an organization, please reach out to Ms. Tully prior to signing up to serve.
While there is no formal service hour requirement for middle school graduation, middle school students are also encouraged to serve and opportunities will be provided through their religion classes, after school and on the weekends.