Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of September 27, 1999
Seven schools collaborate to produce handwritten Gospel book
By ANH HOANG
WCR Staff Writer
Talk about your not-so-average class project.
Take 3,200 students, 800 sheets of paper, a lot of lead and ink and the four Gospels and you get Sandra King's year-long class project.
"I thought this would be a good idea for a jubilee project," King said of the black leather-bound book of the four Gospels handwritten by elementary and junior high school students from Sherwood Park Catholic schools.
The 10-pound book contains verses written by each student from seven of the city's Catholic schools. Kindergarten students had imprints of their thumbs in the book in lieu of writing.
"We didn't want to leave them out, but it is a struggle for some of them to write," King said. "It was a struggle for some of the first-grade students to write."
The senior high school students did not participate in the project because "it would have made it overwhelming," King said.
"They have different classes throughout the day. They don't stay with the same teacher all day like the other (grade levels). I feel bad that the high school couldn't participate, but it was already a big enough project as it was."
The idea for the project came from an overseas trip King took five years ago. Visitors to a church in Malta were encouraged to write a verse of the Bible and sign their names in the guest book after their visit.
King said she felt privileged to sign the book and it was from this memory that she suggested the writing project for Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, where she is a pastoral assistant.
She got the OK from OLPH's pastor Father Don Stein, the parish council and the school board.
With a little assistance, King compiled a computerized version of the Bible and printed it out. She distributed verses to every classroom.
"We wanted the teachers to take their time to explain this to the students," King said. "It wasn't just something they were writing down. We wanted them to make it a prayerful experience."
King chose the Gospels for the project because "they are the most important text. They tell the life of our Lord Jesus."
The planning began in fall 1998. Each student began writing their share of the verses in March and by the summer it was ready to be bound.
"We didn't want it to be a book that was going to be coiled together or something," King said. "We wanted it to be like a real book.
"We went to three different binders before we found this one man. He does it by hand. We needed a personal touch for this."
For some of the children who participated in the project, King suspects their only connection to the Word is what they hear at Mass.
"I don't know if some of them have ever even written a part of a Scripture," she said. "This way they get a chance to actually write it down, maybe take some of it in.
"I don't think that when some of them wrote it they realized it's the Holy Word and they were a part of it."
The book will be displayed at the church "as a historical document of our faith," King said. "We are a community of believers who share a common word and this is concrete proof of it. We need something physical to see that and this is it."