Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of December 18, 2000
Schools emphasize Advent
Christmas takes a back seat to preparing our hearts for Christ
By ANH HOANG
WCR Staff Writer
It's not that they're Grinches, but Edmonton Catholic Schools are encouraged not to focus too much on Christmas at this time of year.
"We want to put an emphasis on Advent and not Christmas," said Father Stephen Wojcichowsky, coordinator of religious education.
"Once the students come back (from Christmas break), the celebration of Christmas is over, so naturally the schools want to include a little of (Christmas) into their celebration now.
"But we encourage them to stay as close as possible to the Advent cycle."
It's the season of music concerts and Christmas plays. It's also the season of setting up creches and lighting Advent candles as students prepare, not for Kris Kringle, but the coming of Christ.
Some schools plan family events, like St. Andrew Elementary School's family skating night at the Legislative Building and St. Bonaventure's Advent family craft night.
There are plays from Santa's Favourite Story: The Birth of Jesus at St. Alphonsus to Christmas On-line Adventure at St. Hilda.
School sites are a common place for concerts, but the University of Alberta's Convocation Hall is this year's locale for the choirs and bands from Austin O'Brien and St. Joseph high schools.
Some schools have set up a creche zeroing in on the fact that baby Jesus is not yet in the manger.
Schools like Good Shepherd Elementary gather for an Advent celebration at the beginning of every week. Students and teachers light the Advent candles and reflect on the meaning of the season.
"The kids do understand what this means," said Sally Dmitri, a Grade 2 teacher. "We've talked about preparing our hearts for Jesus . . . the different things they can do to prepare everyday."
Acting principal Lorel Trumier added, "Not to have it would be an absence of who we are."
Trumier admits that many of the younger children may not grasp the deeper meaning of the Advent season, but they understand the basic idea - Christ's birthday. And that's the goal of the celebrations in the schools.
"We don't want to squash the spirit of Christmas. But it's important for the children to rejoice in the birth of Christ," Wojcichowsky said. "They'll have candy canes and the rest of it. We still celebrate that part of it. We celebrate everything; everything that is good, we celebrate."