We had two masses for the Lakota students today for the All Saints Holy Day. Right after school grades 1-8 gathered in church with all their teachers and houseparents. Of course our opening song had to be a lively rendition of “When the Saints Go Marching In.”
Each of the classrooms chose a saint to learn about that had some special significance to them, and designed a banner that was proudly carried in the opening procession. Saints Jochim and Anne (patron of grandparents) included the names of several of our students grandparents. I myself found out our newest saint, Kateri Tekakwitha, is the patroness of ecology. St. Maximillian Kolbe is a help and inspiration for those struggling with addictions, which is a big hurdle many of our students’ families know about all too well.
Since many of our high school students work after school or are involved in sports practice or getting ready for the school play, we had another mass for them later in the evening. It was a much smaller and more intimate crowd (56 counting staff and students). But the older students seem to enjoy the occasions when they are among peers, and the homily can focus on their reality.
Students volunteered to be readers and hospitality ministers. It takes some courage to read or speak in front of friends, but overcoming that reluctance is another step in building self-confidence and growing into maturity. Each of the homes brought petitions for our common prayers. Our kids are very concerned about all the folks who are suffering on the East Coast and beyond from super-storm Sandy, and that was the prayer most commonly voiced.
I spoke about preparing for the future, and having the attitudes of the beatitudes in trying to make a difference in addressing the suffering of our needy world. I drew some chuckles when I told the high school students, “Our main goal is to get rid of you!” But of course, the goal is having them graduate and move on with the firm and well-rounded foundation they need to pursue God’s hopes and dreams for them.
After mass, a few of the students hung around to chat. They’ve been trying to plan a dance that didn’t happen over Halloween, and now the other holidays are fast approaching. Chris joked that maybe their theme should be zombie turkeys carrying presents!
I noticed one of the girls gravitating to the saints banners. She quietly and contemplatively approached each one, observing how each of the classes had portrayed our heroes of faith. When I asked about her favorite, it was the Holy Innocents, with the names of children that our students knew and prayed for.
My hope is to instill that sense of prayerful wonder and reflection in all of our students, and that we can help form young people who will be known for heroic virtue.
May more and more saints come marching in!