Service Hours -- Minimalism


DD attends a Catholic High School. The school requres a minimum of 40 hours of earned service credits: volunteering at a shelter/hospital/soup kitchen/habitat for humanity, etc. Without the service credits, student can’t be promoted. DD and a few friends turned in their hours early in the first semester, and continued to work on volunteer projects throughout the year without asking for vouchers to turn in.

Anyway, this weekend, about 70 students showed up for a habitat for humanity type event, most of whom had no previous service credits – this only a month before final exams. DD and the other kids who had already turned in all their service points for the year were ridiculed by those who were making a last ditch catch up effort to complete service hour requirements.

Should I address this with the school, or just be grateful that DD and friends gave good testimony in word and deed to the other kids?



Be grateful that they understand the real reason behind service hours. Our parish requires service hours for 7th & 8th graders preparing for confirmation. Last summer our family volunteered to run activities for kids at the parish picnic. Our 11yo (between 5th & 6th at the time) made balloon creations for kids. Some of her friends she knows from Girl Scouts and CYO watched her for awhile - clearly looked puzzled - and then came up to her as a group and asked, “Are you earning service hours?”. She said, “No”. They asked, “Well then, why are you doing this?” She said, “I’m volunteering!” They didn’t understand. Maybe it made them think a bit. Anyway - dd said that was the most fun she’d had at our parish picnics.


My dd has to do the same for her school. She also had to do confirmation hours too… altogether I think she had 70 hours to do. She got them done in February and yet there are kids that haven’t started here either. She knows she is doing the right thing, as does your daughter. I wouldn’t make too big a fuss about it, after all she is in HS and probably doesn’t want mom to make a big deal about it.


Don’t worry so much. Make sure she has enough time to play, get some diversion or entertainment, so she gets to do something outside of school (be it academic or social), but she has enough rest to regenerate and she should be fine. :wink: If she finds enough appreciation home, she won’t normally care so much for peer pressure, I think.


Be glad your dd did what was expected of her in a timely manner.

Personally, I’m against “service hours”. Once it’s required, it’s not volunteering. They’re doing it for a grade, promotion etc.

Good can still come out of it, but it changes the intention behind the action.



just explain to your child the difference between a passing grade and and excellent grade. Some people will always be C students whether in academics, in relationships, as friends, as citizens, and as Catholics, because they will go through life trying to get by with the least possible effort, asking “what is the least I have to do” to pass, to have confirmation, for Lent, to keep my wife happy, to get my parents off my back, to get by at work etc. They will miss out on most the joy and fulfillment of life because you get.what you give. But most of all, they will always wonder why others seem to be able to have a real relationship with Jesus Christ, yet they don’t, because they never learned the reason for service, to see Christ in those one serves.


I had to do service hours for my high school. I chose to volunteer at my parish helping with the records of contributions for the church envelopes. I enjoyed doing this so much that I continued after I completed all the required hours. It helped me to get my first job when I was in high school. I used the parish secretary as a reference and listed the volunteer work on my application.

Fast-forward about 15 years. I resumed volunteer work at an ecumenical mission meal for the poor at a neighbourhood Methodist Church where Catholics (from my parish), Lutherans and Presbyterians all help out. I love the volunteer work. I’ll be there on 25 April.


we are no longer, by diocesan sacramental legislation, allowed to require a set number of service hours, or have students keep a log that is signed. “Service project as assigned by the pastor” is the new requirement. What is encouraged is a spiritual journal kept during the confirmation preparation process. We encourage the candidates to reflect, with the aide of specific scripture passages, on their services, with guided meditations and questions: who did you serve, what did you learn about them, about yourself, how did you use your gifts in this service, how did you serve Christ in this work etc. We also remind them repeatedly that the requirement to serve the Church and Christ’s poor is incumbent on all the baptized, and that as a rock bottom minimum every baptized Catholic adult should be giving at least an hour a week. We also have a stewardship program across the board in the parish, and teach stewardship spirituality throughout the program.


It migt be worth it down the road. My sister had a large amount of service hours above and beyond what was required in high school and is getting offered scholarships for several thousand dollars off the tuition for college each year as a result of it. Not that this should be your daughter’s motive but if she is embarrassed she can say she is working towards that. On a side note I hated how even at a Catholic school it was embarrassing to be a good Catholic for reasons such as the example you provided as well as more. My faith certainly was weakened more so than strenghthened by my catholic high school.


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