One of the blessings of a Catholic school is the gift of weaving education, faith, and family traditions into the very fabric of the school community. As the days of fall become shorter, the reality of eternity is celebrated by many cultures. In a Catholic school, there is much more to celebrate such as All Hallows Eve, Dia de los Muertos, All Saints Day and All Souls Day
This year, St. Joseph Catholic School in Bradenton had to be creative in celebrating as a school community. The students each prepared an art project to decorate the courtyard with four areas to highlight this season. Teachers and students shared a reflection as their small cohorts visited each area. The Parent Teacher Organization safely prepared treat bags for each student. As music filled the courtyard, students visited each station where they received a treat or symbol that recognized that celebration.
The first station was for All Hallows Eve. This station was a reminder that life can sometimes be frightening, but together, we can overcome challenges with faith. Pumpkins and ornamental gourds from Hydro Harvest Farms in Ruskin, filled this area. Each child got to pick ornamental gourds to put in their bags. Older students were able to select pumpkins to take home. Students prayed for all affected by COVID-19 and prayed for the day we can all remove our masks and celebrate in groups again.
The next station celebrated Día de los Muertos, as a time to remember our loved ones. The students participated in remembering departed relatives and friends as they learned about cultural traditions.
The third station celebrated All Saints Day, and the many Saints who inspire all by their lives of holiness. The Saints brought God’s presence to the world through their love and care for others. Since the Saints always followed God, sunflowers with pictures of Saints filled this area. Students shared in a Litany of the Saints, learned that each of us is called to holiness, and this is a day to remember all Saints, including those whose names we may never know.
The final station was in honor of All Souls Day. Students had prepared pinwheels with the names of family and friends to remember. The students reflected on the Body of Christ and God’s Spirit that fills their lives. They also prayed a decade of the rosary for the faithful departed. Following the prayers, each student received a cross to wear over their heart as a reminder of their love for God and one another.
A pumpkin decorating contest completed the day. Families had prepared pumpkins at home and submitted pictures. A slide presentation was set to music to share with family and friends. E-learners were able to share in these projects from home.