OLP’s 12 Days of Christmas

As we embark on Advent and look towards the celebration of Christ's birth, we are reminded of an oft-hidden but unforgettable figure in the Holy Family: St. Joseph.

Last December, Pope Francis declared 2021 to be the Year of St. Joseph and has encouraged the world to look to the example of humble, quiet, and brave service for which St. Joseph is known. For nearly 140 years, the Academy of Our Lady of Peace has been sponsored by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet whose charism of Unifying Love inspires a commitment to life in service to the Dear Neighbor.

We see this commitment to service each day: from students to alumnae, from faculty and staff to our Board of Directors, from our dedicated families to our community of supporters. They have become the inspiration for OLP’s 12 Days of Christmas. From Tuesday, November 30 to Saturday, December 11, we will share their stories and the ways in which St. Joseph continues to inspire a life-long commitment to service to the Dear Neighbor.

We hope these inspire you to reflect on your own commitment in service and the joys to be found, especially in the Christmas season, of caring for the Dear Neighbor.

The OLP experience of a CSJ education would not be possible without the generous support of people like YOU! As you make your decisions about your year-end giving, we humbly request your consideration of a donation to one of these funds:

Donations to Service Learning and Retreats support faith-forming experiences for all OLP students. From annual retreats in January to immersive service trips, these experiences are critical in shaping each student's identity as a person in service to others.

A scholarship started by Dr. Melinda Blade, (honorary alumna from the Class of 2019), the Sister Joyce Hampel CSJ Scholarship memorializes a woman who committed her life to service in education. During her 31 years at OLP, Sr. Joyce was a teacher and then Assistant Principal. The scholarship is awarded each year to a student who embraces leadership as a way to serve the dear neighbor.

The Sister Dolores Anchondo Scholarship is funded each year by the Leadership & Legacy Fund. This scholarship, in honor of OLP's 19th Principal, is awarded each year to a student who embodies the CSJ charism and illustrates a commitment to service.

Read the stories from this year's 12 Days of Christmas!

“Like St. Joseph, we too can commit to acts of selfless love, whether they be big or small. By doing so, we learn to value each and every human’s dignity and needs in this world. By devoting ourselves to helping others each and every day, we can be living examples of St. Joseph in our daily lives.”
- Sofia H. ‘22

We know the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Carondelet have been called to serve others as Saint Joseph did when called upon by our Lord. It is with honor to be asked to serve the community of OLP as the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Carondelet have for centuries. To try and follow the character, courage, faith, and service of Saint Joseph is truly a calling and not a chore. We as Board members are privileged to serve in the legacy of Saint Joseph and the Sisters of CSJ.
- Damian McKinney, OLP Board Chair, Alumnae Parent

"Throughout my many years working in Catholic education and through the spirituality of the Sisters of St. Joseph, I have had the sincere gift of witnessing OLP students in direct service of the dear neighbor and how such acts have been transforming for students, those served, and therefore, our world. I have served with OLP students to feed the hungry, give haircuts for the elderly, play with children who need such moments of happiness, painted murals that dignified communities, planted food and harvested honey that would nourish communities, visited the lonely, dug holes for foundations to build bridges for students to get safely from their home to school over a dangerous river, and mixed and laid cement for schools to build classrooms. These kinds of acts of service are the very definition of what the Sisters live and what we are called to educate students to be; “excellence, tempered by gentleness, peace, and joy.” We are excellent when we are unified in love and reflecting joy to one another in the world. I pray for more excellence because we practice service."
- Cara McMahon '95, Director of Mission Integration

“OLP is blessed to have a wonderful partnership Catholic Charities Diocese of San Diego. This coming semester, OLP students will have a unique opportunity to intimately engage with the important programs that Catholic Charities offers, through our Service Learning Practicum theology course. In the spirit of the CSJ tradition of service, students will use class time to put their faith into action with on-site learning at Catholic Charities, engaging with justice topics on food scarcity and distribution, the needs of our elderly community, the asylum-seeking process, and the realities of people experiencing homelessness. The CSJ charism of Unifying Love leads the way with OLP’s meaningful partnership with Catholic Charities”.
- Katie Wilson, Service Learning and Retreats Director

“My dedication to service was born here at OLP and cultivated in me a lifelong commitment to giving back in time, talent, and treasure. But it wasn’t until I visited Le Puy-en-Velay, France on pilgrimage that I really understood the roots of our tradition in service. There I learned about the original Sisters of St. Joseph, who despite the turmoil of the French Revolution, sought to live outside of the traditional cloisters and among the people, serving the most poor and vulnerable populations. Now, when I witness OLP students and alumnae serving the dear neighbor in both career and volunteer capacities, I see that these are not individual random acts, but an intentional continuation of the CSJ Legacy.”
- Stephanie Kanaski ‘99, Director of Institutional Advancement, Boundless Donor

"When Zara told me about Autism Tree Project Foundation, I was unaware of what was in store for me. I began as an intern, working on the organization’s YouTube videos, but I have come out of the program with so much more - a family. Spending time with those on the spectrum and bringing joy into their days has been a life-changing experience, and I am so grateful to have shared it with Zara. Through our service, our connection has grown stronger than ever and is a true testament to the OLP Sisterhood."
- Mia D. '23

"My experience as an intern with Autism Tree Project has allowed me to strengthen and build my relationship with the children I volunteer with, God, and also my fellow OLP sister Mia. Through sharing hard work, smiles, laughter, and late nights in serving children on the spectrum, Mia and I have been able to see the face of God in others and share many transformative conversations about what it means to truly serve the Dear Neighbor."
- Zara S. '23

"The word 'service' means different things to different people - 'service to our country', serving the Lord, and some see 'service' as a chore. What we've found in our family is the unexpected personal 'gifts' that come from service, and that you can 'serve' in so vastly different ways and means. Cassidy has been serving with the San Diego Rescue Mission since she was in 1st grade. She's passionate about helping others truly in need, and has seen the difference even small efforts can make when done consistently and with love over time. She also loves serving her school in various ways - religion class and morning prayers, women in business and other committees which help with leadership development in our girls, and even just individually as a confidante with other girls new to the school needing guidance. Serving takes all shapes and sizes. I unexpectedly stepped up to serve with the OLP Golf Committee a few years ago which brought me closer to OLP's mission and vision for supporting girls' growth regardless of need. I met so many wonderful parents and my level of commitment for the school's purpose deepened with every outreach. I became more of an evangelist as I realized how many in our community are unaware of our school and the opportunities here. So, in short, we all need to embrace 'service' with an open mindset and find ways to give of ourselves. Only truly then will we experience the meaning of what Gandhi wrote: "the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others."
- Shannon Matwiyoff

"As a third generation alumna, the opportunity to return to my alma mater has been a rewarding experience. Recently, my mother, Beatriz Castellanos de Cabañas’85, also returned to work at OLP. My mom and I share the experience of being students at OLP under the leadership of Sister Dolores and Sister Joyce. Being amongst the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet was a privilege in that I saw the humble model of service the sisters upheld and valued. Although we no longer have CSJ sisters on campus, it is so encouraging for both my mom and myself to witness their legacy of service continuing and thriving in our current students. Moreover, working in the Marketing and Communications Department at OLP, I enjoy every opportunity to share the stories of the CSJs, both past and present, to make sure their charism of unifying love is understood and cherished throughout our community."
- Beatriz Cabañas '13

"I believe it's human nature to want to help others. But as a 14 year old, you're limited by resources. I learned while a student at OLP that we can give more than just money. I started tutoring younger kids at school, serving meals to the homeless, volunteering at my church...all simple tasks. I felt like I was making a difference and that feeling is what motivates me to continue to volunteer for various organizations in our community. The reward of knowing I was able to help, even if in only the smallest way, is a gift for my heart."
- Aida Soria '99