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Maddy Herries, center, talked with students at Nerinx Hall High School in Webster Groves Aug. 28. Herries is a member of the Loretto Volunteer Program, which pairs volunteers with social justice organizations for a formative year of service. She is a 2014 graduate of Nerinx Hall.
Maddy Herries, center, talked with students at Nerinx Hall High School in Webster Groves Aug. 28. Herries is a member of the Loretto Volunteer Program, which pairs volunteers with social justice organizations for a formative year of service. She is a 2014 graduate of Nerinx Hall.
Photo Credit: Sid Hastings

Nerinx grad returns home as Loretto Volunteer

School’s mission ‘shaped my life’ campus ministry assistant says

Maddy Herries is glad to be back in a familiar setting.

Herries no longer sits at a desk at Nerinx Hall High School, from where she graduated in 2014. Now, she’s serving as a Lorretto Volunteer, working as an assistant campus minister, matching students with service opportunities, planning a service trip and assisting with other campus ministry projects. The role she began at the start of the new school year is rewarding, Herries said.

Loretto Volunteers live out the Loretto Community’s mission to work for justice and act for peace. They work for a year with social justice organizations while living a simple, communal lifestyle with other local volunteers.

After introducing herself to students in a theology class and talking with other students about service efforts, Herries said she’s glad to be of assistance to teens who were in the same spot as her a few years ago at the Catholic college-preparatory high school for young women founded by the Sisters of Loretto.

“I’m looking forward to getting to know the students and their passions, helping them with their faith through service,” Herries said.

Herries picked Nerinx as a site for her service, choosing to stay in St. Louis because the mission of the school was so valuable to her. “It shaped my life, strengthened my faith and helped me be free to be myself,” she said.

Herries recently graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a bachelor’s degree in religious studies.

Nerinx was a big factor in her life, she noted, especially “how much the teachers supported whatever fields we pursued. If you were struggling, they’d meet with you and suggest, ‘Let’s try this.’”

It was “a very personal educational experience,” Herries said.

Nerinx also is where she was exposed to social justice issues. “Advocating and serving others is important,” Herries said. “We need to make sure we are taking care of our community.”

Among other things, Herries was involved with the Eco Act (Ecology in Action) and Women 4 Women clubs and in behind-the-scene roles for musicals at Nerinx.

The current group of Lorettto Volunteers began their year of service Aug. 10 with a retreat at the Loretto Motherhouse in central Kentucky. Herries will spend the year living with other Loretto Volunteers at Tobin House in Maplewood. They plan time to gather each week to share a meal, discuss current events or dive deeper into the spiritual aspects of their work.

“I absolutely love the Loretto community,” Herries said. “We all support each other and work together. It’s much more than being roommates. We hold each other accountable to our values.”

In college, Herries was connected with Loretto through an online Loretto Circle in which school faculty members, Sisters of Loretto, former Loretto Volunteers, Loretto co-members and others gather monthly to discuss the spirituality, mission, values and history of Loretto. It was refreshing to be reminded of the values of Loretto even though she was on a secular college campus, Herries said.

Beth Buchek, director of service learning at Nerinx, said Herries helps with the workload but also brings fresh perspectives and ideas. “She is a good example for our students. It’s nice for them to see ways of living life that are countercultural, with a focus of giving back to others,” Buchek said of the Loretto Volunteers.

The Loretto Volunteer program is another way for the spirit of the Sisters of Loretto to continue, Buchek added.

>> Loretto Volunteers

The Loretto Volunteer Program pairs volunteers with social justice organizations for a formative year of service. Five Loretto Volunteer participants are serving in St. Louis. They are:

Lindsey Faust, a Texas native and graduate of Fordham University with degrees in theology and communication and culture. She works with St. Louis’ Inter-Faith Committee on Latin America.

Maddy Herries works with the campus ministry department at Nerinx Hall, where she helps expand opportunities for local community service days and accompany students on service immersion trips. She assists and plans retreats, rituals and justice-themed assemblies/events.

Adele McKiernan, a Boston native, is a recent graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she studied history and integrated liberal studies. She works for Missouri Healthcare for All.

Brianna Nielson graduated from Saint Mary’s College of California with a degree in biology and a minor in psychology. She is working to improve medical care for veterans with the St. Louis VA ComPACT team.

Candace Okon, originally from Dallas, graduated with a degree in history from Washington University in St Louis. She volunteered with the Archdiocese of St. Louis in the Taize Community-led effort for racial reconciliation and healing.

Nerinx Hall service learning program

• 90 hours of service required for graduation.

• Nerinx students completed over 19,000 hours of service in the 2016-17 school year.

• 35 service trip opportunities are available to students

In a statement of its philosophy, Nerinx Hall explains it seeks to inspire each student to a lifelong pursuit of knowledge, self-awareness, Christian community, self-expression and committed action.

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