Force of 9,000 Catholic school students making a difference in first Diocesan Day of Service

| Posted on May 1, 2015 | 

Catholic school students of the Diocese of Trenton are making their mark today in communities across Burlington, Mercer, Monmouth and Ocean counties for the inaugural “Catholic Schools Do It All” Day of Service.

About 9,000 students, representing 30 Catholic elementary schools and two high schools are taking part in the Day of Service, a spin-off of the newly-launched diocesan awareness campaign, “Catholic Schools Have It All.” The students are participating in activities to aid those in need and to recognize those who have given to their communities.

Additional schools conducted their own Days of Service earlier, and others will complete service projects in the coming weeks.

Pre-K through 12th grade students — many dressed in their school uniforms — are cleaning public streets and planting flowers; hosting meals for seniors, municipal workers and military veterans; visiting senior centers to perform musical numbers; reading to young children in an area residential program; collecting food and packed lunches for area food programs;  filling gift bags and backpacks with summer items for families in need; raising money in a dance-a-thon and 5K for important causes; and using their artistic talents to decorate recycling bins and items to be given out to area groups. Many teachers and administrators are chronicling the service day on social networks via the project hashtag, #CatholicSchoolsDoItAll

Today’s Day of Service is the same day the Catholic Church observes the Memorial of St. Joseph the Worker. The project is a way for Catholic school students and other representatives to give back to their communities and to put into action the Episcopal motto of their bishop, Most. Rev. David M. O’Connell, C.M.: “To serve and not to be served.”

Bishop O’Connell affirmed the efforts of all who play a role in the Day of Service, and underscored that acts of service make up an integral part of the daily experience in Catholic schools. “Having a day like this in which all of our schools participate is so important because it demonstrates what a significant difference we can make together,” he said.

The Bishop added, “We also need to remember that service is a mission of our schools day in and day out, and all of them take part in much-needed charitable efforts throughout the year. It would be impossible to calculate the positive impact that our Catholic schools make on their communities and the world in general, but this Day of Service offers just a glimpse.”

There are currently 35 Catholic elementary schools and eight Catholic high schools sponsored by parishes or the Diocese of Trenton. Together they serve nearly 17,000 students in kindergarten through eighth grades across Burlington, Mercer, Monmouth and Ocean counties.

For more on the diocesan campaign “Catholic Schools Have It All,” and to view a video message from Bishop O’Connell, go to

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