|The kindergarten student who carried the Marion icon for his class|
|Praying and honouring the Blessed Virgin Mary during the month of May has been a Catholic tradition since the seventeenth century. This devotion to Mary is especially meaningful to IHMS because of her prominence in the school’s name, and in the order of Sisters who own and operate the school.
|This year’s procession was led by a pair of students – one from grade 8 and one from kindergarten|
In the past, St. Nicholas School (the school that eventually became Immaculate Heart of Mary School in 1962) held an annual “Crowning of Mary” ceremony every May. Since the custom of Mary crownings has fallen out of vogue in recent decades, IHMS has replaced it with a different form of veneration – a prayer service and rosary walk.
|Mr. Picklyk addressing the staff and students shortly after opening exercises|
As usual, the students sat on the floor facing a temporary altar that was set up in the center of the gym. The altar held various statues and icons of Mary that were collected from prayer corners from each of the different classrooms.
|Each grade brought a statue or an icon to be carried in the procession|
With the students quietly sitting on the gym floor, Mr. Picklyk welcomed everyone and began the prayer service by projecting images of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the gym wall. This was followed by projecting the words to the song “O Maria”, which the students sang.
|Mr. Picklyk projected the words to the song “O Maria” onto the gym wall|
|Since everyone was gathered for a Rosary Walk, most students brought their own rosary beads from home. Mr. Picklyk spent a few minutes talking about how to pray the rosary – 10 “Hail Marys” followed by an “Our Father”. Students who forgot to bring a rosary from home were told that they could keep track by using their 10 fingers.|
|Mr. Fil, the school’s caretaker, opening the gym doors for the walk|
|Mr. Picklyk then called a preselected student from each grade to approach the altar and receive either an icon or statue of Mary. These students had volunteered to carry an icon or statue while leading their class on the walk around the school.
The procession began with the Kindergarten and grade 8 students (who paired up together), followed by the grade 1 and grade 7 students (who also paired up together), followed by the rest of the grades. Nina H., a grade 8 student, led the procession with the school’s large icon of the Blessed Mother.
Basically, the students walked through the playground and around the school twice. The entire walk lasted about 10 minutes. During the walk, the students recited the rosary, and continued to do so for 2 complete laps around the school.
After the second lap, everybody filed back into the gym to finish off the rosary and to sing “Ava Maria” as a closing hymn.
|Students singing “Ava Maria” as a closing hymn|