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personifying THE SAINTS

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For a second year, students could venerate relics loaned from Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Center. In 2021, the school first received relics for veneration. The seven relics displayed in 2022 were from Saints Francis of Assisi, Anthony of Padua, Ignatius of Loyola, Dymphna, Mary Magdalene, Kateri Tekakwitha and the Seven Blessed Martyrs of Thailand.

“Students used magnifying glasses to examine the relics more closely and brought sacramentals to touch the relics,” said Hacker. “They waited quietly until it was their turn to venerate the relics. Students also brought written prayer intentions,” seeking the saints’ intercession.

“With this as their second year experiencing the relics, the students looked forward to attending this event,” said Kristin Penley, St. Margaret of York Principal. “It is a very moving, prayerful experience for all students, from youngest to oldest. Students are very reverent and sincere in their prayers as they spend time with the relics. They are encouraged to bring their rosary or a personal religious item from home to venerate the relics. They had the opportunity to ask questions about the relics and were able to share stories about how the saints speak to them in their daily lives.”

Penley said that as the viewing ended, students could look in a mirror to reflect on how they can also be saint-like.“Saintly relics personify the saints to our children,” said Penley. “Students are able to connect with [their] stories and experiences. This experience provides evidence to the children that these saints walked the earth just as [the children] do today. Our hope is that these saints will act as role models to the children, [who] will remember them during challenging times. In their classrooms, they learn the stories about saints of all nationalities and origins. This experience brings those stories to life.”

Both Penley and Hacker shared that viewing of the relics was not only for children, and impacted adults. Children’s parents were invited in the afternoon and evening.

The parish was also gifted seven relics in 2021 that are always displayed for veneration: Saints Pius X, Anthony of Padua, Maria Goretti, Frances Xavier Cabrini, Margaret Mary Alacoque, Paul of the Cross and Blessed Maria Gabriella.

“We partner with parents in the faith formation of their children,” shared Penley. “Exposing the students to some of the many ways to pray in a respectful, devotional way builds a strong foundation for their faith.”

“As we live each day, we have times of joy and times of trial,” continued Penley. “When we are comfortable in our prayer life, we naturally lean into our faith in thanksgiving or despair. If taught at a young age, it becomes a way of life. These experiences with the Eucharist and the relics bring us close to God.”

This article appeared in the February 2023 edition of The Catholic Telegraph Magazine. For your complimentary subscription, click here.

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