Published November 10, 2005
The fastest way to learn about the saints may be to walk in the shoes of one. That is the lesson many Notre Dame Academy students realized on All Saints Day when they represented their chosen saint. The students in the Pre-K through eighth grade Catholic school dressed the part for a special morning Mass and then marched in a Saint Parade at the school. Students then went back to their classrooms where they shared information about the lives of their chosen saint.
“It’s amazing how much they seemed to understand about the communion of saints after participating in our special celebration,” said Joan Janoszewski, coordinator of religious education. “It made it all worthwhile.”
Each student was encouraged to pick a different saint and then learn as much as possible about that saint. Parents joined in the effort by encouraging their children to delve into the history of the saints and by creating some colorful saint costumes.
At the same time, the families also helped the students understand and commemorate All Souls Day. Each student was asked to bring in a card naming a relative or friend who had died, including a memento of something that was special to that person. The cards were presented during the All Saints Day Mass as was a special altar cloth, which included the names of those remembered. The process was particularly poignant for some students.
“I had one student give me a card to commemorate his grandmother who had just died. He presented it to me with tears in eyes,” Janoszewski said.
The cards were also used to mark “El Dia de Muertos” or the Day of the Dead, which the students learned about as part of the school’s international program. During Spanish class, each grade visited a special altar to pray for those who have died.
“The day honors the memory of deceased relatives and gives us an opportunity to reflect upon our lives, our relationship with God and others and our heritage,” the Spanish teachers wrote in a letter to the parents.
These types of experiences are ones that Janoszewski hopes to continue as part of Notre Dame Academy’s religious program. Aside from these celebrations, Notre Dame Academy students also depicted the Joyful Mysteries during a Living Rosary event in October, and they take an active role in the school’s weekly Mass celebrated by Marist Father Hector Cruz.
“It’s been beautiful to see how much the students and their families are participating in this effort to bring our faith to life,” Janoszewski said.