An Extraordinary High School Ministry

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Photo: The Greater Louisville Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, working to advance philanthropy through education, training, and mentoring, presented its 2012 “Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy Award” to the St. Xavier Joseph of Arimathea Society. This award recognizes an individual or a group of young people who demonstrate outstanding commitment to the Greater Louisville/Southern Indiana community. Pictured here are the students and faculty members who attended the presentation ceremony.

The Joseph of Arimathea Society, named after the person who provided for Jesus’ burial, is alive and well at St. Xavier High School in Louisville. Students there act as pallbearers and provide a Christian burial service for deceased individuals of Jefferson County who do not have the funds to be buried in a private cemetery. Many of these individuals die alone and have no one at the end of their lives to pray for them. Members of the St. Joseph of Arimathea Society are there to give dignity to each decedent and to carry them to their final resting place.
The Society has been called upon to bury the homeless, some of whom died on the streets. They have buried murder victims who died in the prime of their lives. They have buried babies and children whose death tore at the hearts of their parents. They have buried the elderly and disabled who had lost touch with their families. Since its beginning in 2006, members of the St. Joseph of Arimathea Society have performed burial services for over 800 people. Originally, burials took place in the county-owned River Valley Cemetery. After it filled, burials moved to Meadowview Cemetery where they have now been taking place for two years. Beginning with just a few students, the St. X group currently includes about 45 students. Over 150 St. Xavier students have participated over the society’s six-year span. Additionally, twenty faculty members and numerous parents have regularly attended ceremonies.
A typical burial takes place between 10:00am to 12:00pm. Six to eight Society members, a faculty leader and parent make the half-hour drive to Meadowview Cemetery to perform a funeral and a graveside service. Conducted against a backdrop of on-ramp traffic entering the Gene Snyder Freeway, the students quietly and prayerfully pay respect to a person that none of them ever knew. They dutifully carry the casket from the hearse into the shelter, conduct a prayer service, and then carry the casket to the graveside for burial. In the cold of winter, during rain storms, and even over summer break, young men from St. Xavier volunteer their services when needed. Each young man who has participated in these burial ceremonies is performing a valuable service for the people of Jefferson County. Each is also assisting the grieving families.
Each young man is also learning what it means to be a responsible member of his community, offering his talents for the benefit of others. But most importantly, members of the St. Joseph of Arimathea Society give dignity to each individual who dies alone. The group at St. Xavier has formed numerous partnerships to help complete the burials. They engaged five other high schools and two universities, each of whom formed a St. Joseph of Arimathea Chapter. Also, Owen Funeral Home, the Catholic Parish of the Epiphany, St. Edward Catholic Church, Eon U.S., Sullivan and Cozart General Contractors, JRA Architects, and Metro Parks have become partners, providing funds, goods and services.

Read more in this issue…

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The Brothers are now “wired” with a presence on Facebook, Twitter, and the blog
Xaverian High School in Brooklyn weathered storm Sandy with prayers from the XBSS network.
-An interview with Brother Vincent Misiati offers new insights about the mission of the Brothers in western Kenya.
-We congratulate this year’s Ryken Award winners, exemplary educators all, and we say farewell to Brother Ronald “Yogi” Bonti, CFX.
Congressman Romano Mazzoli shares why he has the Brothers in his estate plans.

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