We here at St. Matthew Catholic School are committed to the religious education of the whole person. We
believe that it is our unique mission to guide young people in developing a Christian social conscience and a commitment to a life of justice and peace. Religious education does not stop at the threshold of the classroom door. Therefore all students in grades 6 – 8 must complete a minimum of 20 hours of community service each year they attend St. Matthew. Guidelines are as follows:
- The time frame for performing community service is June 1 through May 1.
- Students should pace themselves by setting personal goals of four to five hours per quarter (less than an hour per week).
- Service hours may be adjusted on a sliding scale to accommodate transfer students. Excess hours may not be rolled over from one year to the next.
- Students are responsible for completing and submitting a Community Service Form to their religion teachers as documentation of each completed service. Forms must be signed by an official representative of the organization; that representative may not be a family member. Completed forms should be submitted by the end of the quarter during which the service was performed.
- Eighth graders must complete community service hours/projects in order to participate in graduation exercises; however, eighth grade students making their Confirmation and completing service hours as part of their sacramental preparation are exempt from the school requirement.
- Students who do not satisfy the 20 hours will receive a grade of Incomplete in Religion. Upon completion of the service requirement, the grade of Incomplete will convert to the grade earned for the year. The final report card will be withheld and a student will not be promoted until this requirement is met.
Service opportunities are plentiful in the greater Jacksonville area and will be posted throughout the school on bulletin boards, in religion classrooms, and advertised by fliers. Ordinarily, service should be completed through non-profit or charitable organizations such as homeless shelters, soup kitchens, convalescent homes, home building projects, tutoring children (especially from low income households), and volunteering at parish festivals, community service agencies, local hospitalsand parish religious education programs, and for church related ministry done outside the weekend worship service. A list of “pre-approved” service will be available as a downloadable form on our school website.
When in doubt about the appropriateness of a service opportunity and in order to prevent unnecessary misunderstandings, students are encouraged to discuss their plans with their religion teacher. While students are not limited to the above mentioned service opportunities, all service hours must be volunteer (non paid) and completed before or after school hours. Chores or service performed in the home or in a family operated business as a responsible family member are indeed commendable but are not considered community service.
Credit for participation in parish liturgical celebrations (e.g. altar serving, usher, lector, choir, etc.) may be applied to service hours only after the minimum requirement of
20 hours has been completed.
The Gospel calls us to the values of compassion and service to those in need. This both requires and involves interaction with the community in which he/she lives. Community service is central to what we stand for as a Catholic community. Participation in the combination of our education and service hours will enable students to accomplish this goal.