|A grade 8 student and a kindergarten student led the procession
|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.
|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. This year marks the 14th consecutive year that IHMS has initiated a prayer service and rosary walk for Mary in May. This year it was held on Friday, May 29, which is about a week later in May than previous years. The prayer service began with students and staff gathering in the school gym at 9:00 a.m. immediately after the morning’s opening exercises.
|Students and staff gathered in the gym after the morning’s 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.
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.
Sister Anne Pidskalny, SSMI then read a passage from the Gospel about Mary’s visitation from the angel Gabriel. The passage described Gabriel’s announcement to Mary that she will be giving birth to the Son of God.
Next, two grade 8 students, Edcel A. and Nicole M., read a set of petitions, after which everyone replied: “Oh Mary, Mother of God, Pray for us”.
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. 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 kindergarten student chosen to carry the icon for his class
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. Mylana S., a grade 8 student, led the procession with the school’s large icon of the Blessed Mother.
|Staff and students prayed the rosary during their walk around the school
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.
|Students and staff moved back into the gym after circling the school twice
After the second lap, everybody filed back into the gym to finish off the rosary and to sing “Ava Maria” as a closing hymn.