Southwestern Indiana's Catholic Community Newspaper

Answering The Call To Serve

By Katelyn Klingler, The Message Intern
Reitz Memorial High School faculty members Rip Collins, left, and Joan Miller organize clothing at the Nativity clothes closet, which serves community members in need. Photo by Katelyn Klingler

On Aug. 2, Reitz Memorial High School faculty and staff participated in a “Day of Recollection,” putting this year’s Catholic Schools’ theme, “Called to Serve,” into action by volunteering throughout the community.


The day began at Holy Rosary Parish Hall, where Memorial faculty and staff gathered for a community breakfast before heading to their various work sites. Teams of 4-8 volunteers served at a total of 11 locations, including the Evansville Rescue Mission, the Dream Center, St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store, Life Choices Maternity and Youth Home and several others. 


For Joan Miller, English teacher and assistant women’s basketball coach at Memorial, the day was an opportunity not only to give back to the community herself, but also to set an encouraging example for students. “I feel extremely blessed to have what I have, and to be able to give back is a gift,” she said. “I feel like we’re role models to our students. Even the most reluctant students come back from service projects and say they enjoyed it more than they thought they would,” she added. 


Miller and colleague Rip Collins, who teaches physical education and driver’s education while serving as the head men’s baseball coach, spent the day organizing clothes in the Clothes Closet at the Nativity campus of Holy Rosary Parish. 


For teachers Janell Prather and Christina Edwards, who volunteered in Nativity’s food pantry, the day of service was a reminder of what it means to be called to serve. “We’re living out what we’re called to do,” said Prather, an English teacher. “It’s especially meaningful in our own communities. Mother Teresa said, ‘Help one person, and always start with the person nearest you.’” 


Edwards, a Spanish teacher, added, “Sometimes we get so busy in life, it’s important to take time to give back to others.”


After volunteering for 3 hours, participants in the day of service reconvened for lunch, presentations and Mass. Miller notes that this program, now in its third year, is more rewarding than a traditional back-to-school retreat, and it’s clear that other participants agree. As Edwards said, “It’s a tradition we hope to keep strong.”