by Nektarios Donas ‘24
For the past 24 years, Chaminade High School’s service club, Emmaus, has been making a difference both at Chaminade and in various communities throughout Long Island and New York City.
Emmaus was founded in 1998 in an effort to expand student service beyond the CHS school grounds. The goal of Emmaus is to make the world a better place by giving back to the school’s neighbors.
Emmaus is currently moderated by Mr. Daniel Haslbauer ’11, who was a member of Emmaus when he was a student at Chaminade, and co-moderated by Mr. William Clemens ’14, Bro. Patrick Sarsfield ’86, Mr. Michael McCarthy, and Bro. Andrew Santoriello ’07.
The name “Emmaus” comes from a New Testament story where two disciples encounter a stranger on the way to the city of Emmaus. During their walk, the disciples are surprised that the stranger has not heard about Jesus Christ, and so they recount Christ’s stories and miracles to him.
When they reach Emmaus, the disciples invite the man to stay with them for the night. As they are eating, the man takes the bread and breaks it for them. The disciples immediately realize this is Jesus Christ Himself, at which point Jesus disappears.
In Haslbauer’s own words, “As volunteers of Emmaus, we want to be the living example of Christ to those in our communities. We want people to look up and no longer see us, but see Jesus in us, acting through us.”
As head moderator of Emmaus, Haslbauer takes initiative in leading the several hundred active members of the club in service projects. Emmaus hosts biweekly meetings on Wednesdays, where members perform in-school service projects such as packing boxes of donations, decorating for the Christmas season, and hanging posters for toy drives.
More extensive service projects are usually outdoors and take place approximately once a month. During these events, which occur off the Chaminade campus, club members help with
the upkeep of various properties such as the Garden City Bird Sanctuary and Homecoming Farm in Amityville.
One of Emmaus’ biggest service events each year is the Junior-Senior prom at Queen of Peace retirement home, which is run by the Little Sisters of the Poor. At this event, students pair up with the residents and groove on the dance floor with them.
The COVID-19 pandemic has prevented this event from happening for the last couple of years, but Emmaus members have come up with creative ways to continue working with Queen of Peace. Chaminade students write personalized letters to the residents, helping assuage their loneliness amidst periods of isolation. Emmaus also collects and delivers much-needed personal care products to the residents during the Advent season.
Through Emmaus, Chaminade students have the opportunity to live by Christ’s example. When asked about what Emmaus means to him, Haslbauer stated, “We should always look to our neighbor and see ways in which we can give of our talents or wealth to those who are in need. Whatever we do for the least of our brothers, we do for Christ—and ideally most of what we do in life is for Christ. In giving back, we are giving thanks to God for the gift of life he has given us.”