Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of April 5, 1999
School takes Annunciation seriously
By LELLA BLUMER
Special to the WCR
The feast of the Annunciation is always a special day for the west end Edmonton school that bears its name.
For the past seven years, students, staff and parents at Annunciation School have celebrated March 25 with a Mass, a Mary procession, spiritual and cultural activities, and a staff dinner.
This year the day was extra special because Archbishop Joseph MacNeil was there to celebrate Mass, visit with the students, and share dinner with the teachers.
"Today we thank God for Jesus," MacNeil said in his homily. "We celebrate the beginning of Jesus' life and in a way the life of all of us, because this is when God became a human being like you and me."
He reminded students that when Mary was chosen by God to be the mother of Jesus, "she was afraid because she didn't understand how it would happen.
"But she said 'whatever God wants me to do, I am ready to do,' and she taught Jesus to say the same thing."
Assistant principal Laurette Wasylyk says the school's students become familiar with the story of the Annunciation from their first day at the school.
"Our school opening Mass and Annunciation Mass are the two biggest days of the year," she says, adding that the same readings are used at both celebrations. Each classroom is given its own angel to remind students of the angel who visited Mary to tell her she would bear the Son of God.
Annunciation Day celebrations include praying the rosary, "angel awards" for students, arts and crafts, and cultural activities.
"We want the students to be close to Mary," Wasylyk says. "Anything that touches their spirit, we will try.
"You can tell they relate to Mary by the prayers of the faithful they bring to the Mass, in their own words, from the ECS class praying for 'the rabbits that hop,' to the older students praying for the grace to be ready to do the will of God, as Mary did."
In his homily, MacNeil pointed out that we need to reflect often on what God wants us to do.
"God wants us to do ordinary things - like if you know your mother isn't feeling well one day, maybe you could say 'I'll pray for you today' and she would be so happy.
"When you do that you are acting the way God wants you to - you are becoming like Jesus, always thinking about others."
Although the format of the celebration changes slightly every year, the day always includes Mass and a Mary procession at Annunciation Church, a few blocks from the school.
It helps having a church nearby, Wasylyk says. "All the students are familiar with the church because we celebrate Mass there once a month." Those receiving First Communion take a tour of the church "to make them feel as close as they can to God."
One reason for inviting the archbishop, Wasylyk says, is so the Grade 6 students preparing for Confirmation get a chance to meet him.
"The students always say after Confirmation that he is so welcoming and personable, and we wanted them to feel like that beforehand," she says.