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It is very difficult to get a fresh perspective on a place you’ve lived for practically your whole life. It’s all too easy to fall into routines, seeing the usual people and places through the lens of the familiar.
But for one Benedictine College student, Benjamin Hoopes, this challenging perspective shift was achieved through his participation in the John Paul II Fellowship with the Center for Family Life. By serving as a tutor in Central School, located in his hometown of Atchison, Kansas, Hoopes was given the chance to see his neighbors in a new light and serve as a witness to hope to at risk youth in his community.
Over the past year as member of the St. John Paul II Fellowship, Hoopes tutored middle school students in the Human Dignity Curriculum, a curriculum developed by the World Youth Alliance to teach personal identity and human excellence. The students he works with often have challenging family backgrounds and behavioral problems, circumstances which allow them to especially benefit from the lessons of the Human Dignity Curriculum.
Though his time spent in Central School has been for the benefit of the students, Hoopes acknowledged that it has a powerful impact on his life as well.
The hours tutoring, and his participation in the St. John Paul II Fellowship as a whole, “empowered me to see that transforming culture in America is something that is real and possible, done through relationships and starting here in Atchison” said Hoopes. “The fellowship has given me a lot more respect for the family. I understand its importance for society as a whole, the Church as a whole. Because when you get the family right, it transforms people’s lives.”
Hoopes was drawn to the John Paul II Fellowship by his love of the great saint. One of the highlights of the Fellowship has been learning about the life and writings of John Paul II from Center Director Tory Baucum.
Hoopes observed that in college it is easy to talk about noble ideas as abstract concepts, for example the importance of the family, but the fellowship helps transform those conversations into practical action. This upcoming year, Hoopes will continue to put the things he’s learned from the Fellowship into action by serving as a liaison between the Fellows and the school, helping to coordinate further tutoring and mentorship for the students of Atchison’s Central School.
Hoopes said that many have “called John Paul II a witness to hope, and that is what the Fellows are in the schools.”
Through this witness to hope, Hoopes is able to follow Christ’s injunction to truly love your neighbor as yourself.
You can read stories about Hoopes’s work with the Central students here.