Inspired by Service to Others: Living the Legacy of the Maryknoll Sisters

[fa icon="calendar"] Jan 10, 2019 / by Chasen St. Onge '09

Chasen St. Onge '09

The Maryknoll Sisters who founded our school believed in service to others. For them, service was more than just volunteering a few hours here and there a couple of times per year. It was a paradigm that guided their actions and decisions to seek the greatest benefit for others and create positive change in our community.


Today, this spirit of giving is summed up in Maryknoll School’s motto, “Noblesse Oblige,” which is a French expression meaning “to whom much is given, much is expected.” Noblesse Oblige means that we each have God-given talents, abilities, resources and opportunities, and that we as responsible citizens should make use of what we have to better our society. As another saying goes, “A rising tide raises all ships.”


In the 2018-2019 school year, Maryknoll High School has reshaped its curriculum and programs to more fully integrate service learning and Noblesse Oblige. Every quarter, as one of the High School grades takes time away from the hustle and bustle of normal classes for a Day of Recollection, the other three High School grades fan out across O‘ahu for a day of volunteer work and giving back.


On the most recent Day of Recollection on Nov. 8, 20189, these are the service projects that our freshmen, juniors and seniors performed:


  • 9th grade students cleared invasive species and restored upstream riverbanks at the Ala Wai Watershed in Mānoa valley, helped with groundskeeping at Lyon Arboretum, and removed mangroves at the He‘eia Fishpond.
  • 11th grade students laid bricks, raked leaves and assembled educational materials at the Honolulu Zoo, and cleaned facilities and made cat toys at the Hawaiian Humane Society.
  • 12th grade students removed invasive limu and helped with dredging at Maunalua Fishpond.


The hours that the students spent doing community service invigorated and inspired them. Here are some excerpts from their written reflections after participating in the service projects:

“My sense of community has grown recently because I have realized if there are more people involved in doing a task we can get it done faster and then move onto the next challenge.” – Mikeila Beazley
“When it comes to community service, sadly I’m not a big fan of it. I’m generally a lazy person, so I don’t go out of my way to participate in community events like this very often. However, I’m glad that I now have a outlet that allows me to participate in service days with people I know and love. With these service days, I’ve learned how to appreciate the effort people put into their work, even if it’s likely that they wouldn’t get noticed for it. These community service days are definitely more ‘community’-like.” – Kent Burgess
“My values are appreciation, courtesy, optimism, respect, and patience. All of which I have gained by going to Maryknoll School and growing up in this community of ours. I learned that I am interested in outdoors work.” – Lexi Carlos
“Even if I was done with my assigned job, I would still help other groups that needed the help to finish something. So, I definitely felt motivated and I still am very motivated when I participate in other services.” – Kelzi Chinen
“I value learning more about the world by building off the knowledge set forth by those who came before me. Through this experience, I learned about the hard work and dedication needed to maintain the shelters for these homeless animals. I definitely have more understanding than I had before this experience because of realizing the dedication behind running the Humane Society.” – Cody Chow
“I don’t really think one service day could completely change someone, but, I guess I felt better about myself after realizing what we did for the Honolulu Zoo. I mostly try my best to change and to make my service better for myself and for others. My motives for volunteering has changed and now I think I can go into other service days with more energy and ready to work.” – Conner Furuta


Giving back to others sparks something inside of us. It can be the catalyst for personal growth and transformation, and it grounds us in the values and strength of character that is essential for lifelong success.

Chasen St. Onge '09

Written by Chasen St. Onge '09

Chasen St. Onge ’09 is the Student Services Coordinator at Maryknoll School. While in high school at Maryknoll, Chasen was a recipient of the Kekumano Scholarship, one of the school’s most prestigious financial awards given to a student who excels in academics, leadership and service to others.

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