Students Go Above & Beyond to Help Those in Need
Though the COVID-19 pandemic kept our students off campus for the entire fall semester– and part of the spring as well — our community found ways to live out the Gospel values that are inherent in the very mission of Bishop Montgomery High School. At the core of a Bishop education is service, which was put into action through various community projects.
Our theology department, headed by chairperson Bernadette St. James, incorporates community service across all religion courses, and our teachers work with students to provide meaningful, real-world opportunities to put their faith into action. Some of the opportunities are designed to give students simple ways to serve their brothers and sisters– many who live right in their own backyards– and to, hopefully, lay foundations for service that will extend long after graduation. Others are chosen to help students expand their knowledge of faith communities beyond their own and nurture interreligious relations.
In the fall, each grade level’s project had a different focus, one that reflected the course curriculum and the curriculum’s Gospel messages. Our freshmen focused on taking care of those in need, specifically children in orphanages. The ninth graders donated baby and food items to the Orphanage Casa Hogar in Tijuana, Mexico (above left). Our sophomores were challenged to respond to the Gospel message “…whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me (Mt.25:40).” After researching the global crisis of poverty and hunger, they participated in volunteer leadership by donating to the St. Lawrence Martyr Church food pantry to distribute groceries within the local community.
The junior classes began a letter-writing campaign in support of and in gratitude for those on the front lines during this pandemic and also wrote letters to the elderly in our community, hoping to boost their spirits and bring joy during a time of profound isolation. Across the senior religion classes, students discussed and, guided by their teachers, planned opportunities to respond to the social dimensions of the Gospel to help build a more caring community and just society. Drawing on the Seven Themes of Social Justice and the commitment to contribute to the good of the global community, our seniors joined forces with our freshmen and sophomores and participated in the collection drives for the Casa Hogar orphanage and St. Lawrence food pantry. Our Religions of the World seniors also began their own letter-writing campaign to show support for religious and community leaders in their own areas and foster interfaith relationships and dialogue.
In April, students in all grades and religion classes participated in a service project to help homeless veterans at a facility in Inglewood. Hundreds of bags and thousands of items – food, hygiene supplies, clothes and household items – were dropped off in Bishop’s east parking lot for delivery to the housing unit (above right). Coordinated through our theology department and Elizabeth Tobias of the Peer Specialist for Veterans program at Loyola Marymount University, a steady stream of students made their way to campus to drop off the much-needed items for the veterans housing unit.
Between the collection for the orphanage, the St. Lawrence Martyr food pantry and the veterans housing unit, close to three thousand pounds of food and supplies was collected for those in need. Along with other projects that took place, including our annual Adopt-a-child Christmas program, Bishop Montgomery students continue to serve those in need and put their faith into action.
Two Members of the Class of 2021 Receive Archdiocese Service Award
Catherine De Guzman ’21 was BMHS’ 2020-21 Female Recipient of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles Christian Service Award. At BMHS, Catherine completed over 560 hours of service with a variety of clubs and organizations, including serving as an ASB officer, Link Crew Leader, President of the Divine Mercy Club, and member of Campus Ministry. Additionally, she served as a member of Concordia Club, Music Ministry, Cultural Awareness Club, and the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Awareness Club. She is a parishioner at St. Philomena Church in Carson. “Catherine has fully come into her own and has remained a humble, diligent, and incredibly talented young lady,” says religion teacher John Fitzsimons. “When I congratulated her for winning the Archdiocesan Christian Service Award, she didn’t understand why she had been chosen. Having seen her resume — service groups, church groups, youth groups, and always in a leadership role — well, everyone but Catherine knew she deserved it. C.S. Lewis said, ‘Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less.’ That is Catherine. It has become such a part of who she is — to put others ahead of herself — that she doesn’t even realize how special that is. That is what makes her so special.”
Brennan Elming ’21 was BMHS’ 2020-21 Male Recipient of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles Christian Service Award. Brennan was actively involved in service at BMHS, at St. John Fisher Church, and in the local community. In his four years at BMHS, he served over 800 hours. At BMHS, he served as ASB Commissioner of Religious Affairs and President of the Lectio Divina Club. He also served as an academic tutor. At St. John Fisher, he has been an altar server and Eucharistic Minister and serves as Head Acolyte. He also serves as a teen leader in the parish confirmation program. Outside of school and church, Brennan has worked extensively in homeless ministry outreach where he helps prepare food and supplies. He is also the founder of “A Kid Like Me,” an organization that motivates underprivileged elementary students in Watts to do well in school and rewarding deserving students with prizes. “Brennan is an exceptional young man,” says Principal James Garza. “He is a scholar and a leader. The Examen has become a vital part of the BMHS community. It provides us with an opportunity to reflect on the presence of God in our daily life. The success of the Examen is a direct result of Brennan’s leadership. I asked him to spearhead the initiative and he hit the ground running. His positive attitude will serve him well in the future and I am very pleased that we were able to recognize this exceptional leader.”
Concordia Club organized their annual “Pennies for Patients” collection in support of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). This year, Bishop students donated $571.96 to help fund LLS’ life-saving research and services.
In March, Concordia Club collected coloring books and crayons for a program through the Torrance Police Department. Each year, Torrance PD provides for children involved in critical case responses.
Two members of the Class of 2021 have chosen to attend service academies. Henry Hasnah ’21 (right photo below, left) accepted an appointment to attend the United States Military Academy at West Point and Patrick Melia ’21 (right photo below, right) accepted an appointment to the United States Merchant Marine Academy.