He says the revelation was divine intervention. It happened on a Sunday night.
Nick Bishop ’19 was out on the East Route participating in the Labre Ministry to the Homeless. He had been involved in Labre many times before, but this night the words of adult leader Ed Plaspohl left a special imprint on his heart.
“We got out of the van, we’re walking up a hill in the snow. I’m slipping and falling. Mr. Plaspohl says, ‘Hey, it’s Saint Ignatius here. Are you home?’ And I just—I don’t know what happened, but I thought about those words: ‘It’s Saint Ignatius here.’
Our school’s obviously Saint Ignatius, but we’re carrying on the legacy of St. Ignatius, who paved the path for so many others. It’s just what Jesus meant for us to do. We’re supposed to walk in His light and pave the path for others to do just as He did for us.”
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“On top of the academics and the lacrosse team, I definitely wanted to come here. Service wasn’t on my mind or anything,” Nick says about his decision to enroll at Saint Ignatius. After growing up in Strongsville and attending Sts. Joseph and John grade school, he envisioned a standout athletics career, spending his spring on Wasmer Field.
But it would remain just a dream. A torn ACL left the freshman physically incapable of playing lacrosse and emotionally in uncharted waters.
“That was a terrible time in my life,” he says. “I was so focused on lacrosse and my favorite thing just got ripped from me. I didn’t have anything else at Ignatius, really. ... That’s when I really started to depend on God.
“I was by myself with this busted up leg and I don’t know what to do with it. I’m praying: ‘Just please help me figure out something to do.’”
God answered with an opportunity, which Nick admits was the last option on his mind: Sophomore Service at the Malachi House, a Christian hospice home in Ohio City.
“That just opened my eyes to everything,” he says. “I made these huge relationships with some of the elderly over there, and then you’d go back next week and they wouldn’t be there anymore, which impacted me pretty hard.
“I think God really kind of lit a path with the Malachi House. I cannot talk enough about how much the Malachi House helped me.”
As part of the Sophomore Service requirement, Nick had to do an additional service activity and signed up for Homework Club, a tutoring program for neighborhood children through the Arrupe Neighborhood Partnership. Through these experiences, something shifted in him.
“Going into my junior year I was really focused. I had a great time with service last year. I want to really ramp it up. So I started going on Labre, which anyone could say it’s such an amazing experience. And then I started doing Bigs & Littles, where you stick with one kid for the entire year, try to help form them. I got Brian, and he’s now in seventh grade...
“My year with him was amazing. ... Making a bond with a kid who started off the year kind of disrupting and not the best, but throughout the year being able to mature and just become a better person. By the end of his time he’s saying, ‘I want to go to Saint Ignatius. I want to do the same stuff as you.’ I will never forget that experience—being able to let somebody else learn from you.”
Since his junior year, Nick has emerged as a key leader in the Christian Action Team, taking on leadership roles in the Arrupe Explorers mentoring program, Christmas Food Drive and Spring Into Action, in addition to participation in other initiatives.
In late 2018, he took on responsibility for pickup and assembly of 700 cardboard boxes for the Rini Family Christmas Food Drive. He worked through challenges, rallied his fellow food drive team members, and learned a lot about leadership.
He says, “The day of the drive, that was one of the best—maybe the best—experiences I’ve had with service. It just warmed my heart to see all the cars pulling up, and then me and my friend driving out, delivering a basket to two different families...”
This spring, Nick will lead a service site for the annual Spring Into Action day of service, scheduled for Saturday, April 27. Last year, he and Marshall Sommer ’19 worked with the Western Reserve Land Conservancy to complete a much-needed tree-mulching project throughout Ohio City.
“You don’t see the immediate impact, but everyday I walk past where we re-mulched on my way to go to my car and I just kinda grin and be like: ‘We did something right.’”
That experience blended Nick’s passions for service and sustainability. He plans to pursue a degree in environmental studies in college, either at Loyola University Chicago or The Ohio State University.
“I’m hoping to go through my four years, learn everything I can and then I want to be able to be the next great mind in sustainability, to be able to make this more of a zero-waste world and be able to make the world – the whole idea of living for the next generation, being able to pass the world on, being able to reduce carbon emissions, being able to reduce plastic use, everything.”
At the core of Nick’s motivations and his spirit is a deep and genuine care for others; his time at Saint Ignatius has shown him that anyone can be a friend.
“A good amount of friends I have right now at Ignatius, I wouldn’t know them without C.A.T. In the different C.A.T. programs, the kids especially; I’ve made plenty of friends over at Urban Community School. Even on Labre, even if they don’t remember me sometimes, just for that one night being a friend is amazing. Sophomore Service—making the friends over at Malachi House—those are some of the greatest friendships I’ve ever had.”
As he has built relationships with so many people during his high school days, Nick has also nurtured his own friendship with God.
“He’s there 24/7 when you need Him,” Nick says. “So through the service initiatives it’s only made my relationship with Him stronger. I know I can always count on Him, and as long as I’m walking in His light and being able to serve as Jesus did, and St. Ignatius especially, I know He’s going to have a spot for me.”
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These words of an 18-year-old student come across as very wise—the sort of wisdom that comes from experience. Nick will tell you that his path throughout Saint Ignatius has been one filled with surprises, with great teachers and wonderful people to journey with. He says the gifts of his high school days will carry him far throughout his life.
“Especially with the Jesuit education, it’s not just schools and books. It’s teaching you so much more about life and what you want to learn and how
you want to live your life. Being able to go to a school that teaches you what to do in life, not just how to get through life.”
It’s clear by now that Nick knows he wants to live his life A.M.D.G.—for the greater glory of God. So, was the insight he gained on a cold Sunday night the result of divine revelation—or education?
Perhaps it was a little of both.