The service program at St. Anselm's Abbey School is uniquely suited to foster the values of a Benedictine education. As Saint Benedict advises in his Rule, “Let all guests who arrive be received as Christ, because He will say: ‘I was a stranger and you took Me in’ (Mt 25:35).”
For over 30 years now, St. Anselm’s Abbey School has had in place a unique service program for all Fifth and Sixth Form students. Every Tuesday morning, all juniors and seniors leave campus to serve those in need in our own community. Students choose sites where the work has an interest for them – tutoring, assisting the elderly or disabled, food pantry manual work etc.
Most schools with service programs require a defined number of service hours to be performed at sites located by the students or their parents and on their own time. We view the use of class hours and our students’ regular presence at the sites as a valuable way of witnessing to our commitment to importance of community service education. We have also found that the service sites come to rely of the regular arrival on Tuesdays of “the Abbey guys” to plan their own work distribution internally.
Our juniors and seniors work at 13 agency locations the Fort Totten, Brookland, Hyattsville, and Petworth neighborhoods. Students are engaged in various types of service based on their preference and interests. We have students interacting with the elderly and those who are disabled at a nursing home, tutoring in elementary schools, mentoring in childcare centers, examining and fighting against food deserts in community gardens, and giving tours at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
We encourage our students to reflect after serving just as Edmund Burke says, "Serving without reflecting is like eating without digesting." We hold periodic reflection sessions for the students in the program to share experiences and to reflect with one another on the value to those they serve and to themselves from participation in the program.