Students around the diocese are making the most of the Lenten season. Their journey toward Holy Week and the joy of Easter includes prayer, reflection, works of charity and the study of Scripture.
By far the most common school activity during Lent is participating in weekly Stations of the Cross; a time for students to learn about and reflect on Christ’s sacrifice.
Charleston Catholic School, like many others, is making the Stations a focus of study throughout the season. During Holy Week, seventh-graders there will perform a Living Stations of the Cross on campus.
At St. Peter in Columbia, fifth-graders reflected on one station and then showed what it meant to them through drawings, personal prayers and meditations.
Dominican Sister John Agnes Suh, who teaches eighth-grade religion at St. Mary School in Greenville, said they lead the entire school in praying the Stations together each Friday. During Holy Week, the seventh-graders will present a Living Stations, with students standing in silhouette to depict each event.
Students at St. Mary are also working on the other two pillars of Lent, which are fasting and almsgiving.
“We are fasting from habits and behaviors that keep us away from Christ, and focusing on developing virtues,” Sister John Agnes said. Students will concentrate on the virtues of temperance during March, and obedience in April.
Charity is also a big focus during the season. St. Mary students are collecting money to donate to Family Catholic Missions in the Philippines. St. Peter in Columbia is taking part in the annual Rice Bowl collection. Students at St. Mary Help of Christians in Aiken are collecting baby bottles and other supplies for a local crisis pregnancy center, and holding a book drive for the St. Vincent de Paul Society.
Some schools are taking part in unique Lenten devotions.
For example, at St. Martin de Porres in Columbia, students participate in a program called “Backpacking with Jesus.” Each morning during the 8:15 a.m. prayers in the school cafeteria, they reflect on a positive action to carry out during the week and imagine they are traveling with Jesus to a different Biblical landmark. During the week of March 13, for instance, the students focused on Mount Tabor.
“All week, we prayed that the children would be followers of Christ by climbing mountains and reflecting love, peace, joy and faith,” said Sister Roberta Fulton, principal.
Students at St. John Neumann in Columbia were challenged by Father C. Alexander “Sandy” McDonald on Ash Wednesday to pray for someone during Lent. Sixth-grade teacher Cheryl Cambre said all faculty, staff and students wrote their name on a slip of paper and put it in a plastic Easter egg. Each morning, the sixth-graders present one of the eggs to each classroom. The teachers and students then pray for the person whose name is in the egg, and give that person a card to let them know they prayed for them.
At St. Michael in Murrells Inlet, students are learning how Lent is observed in other nations. Spanish teacher Patricia Foley is teaching them how to make carpets called alfombras, used during Holy Week in Guatemala; and miniature floats called pasos, which they will carry in a procession during Holy Week.
At St. Peter in Columbia, Our Lady of the Rosary in Greenville, and St. Andrew in Myrtle Beach, students are preparing for retreats to be held during Holy Week. On Tuesday of that week, eighth-graders at St. Andrew will lead the rest of the school on a retreat which includes a seder meal prepared by parents, music, and a living Stations of the Cross.
Top photo provided: Students at Charleston Catholic School perform a Living Stations of the Cross during Holy Week in 2016. This is an annual tradition at the school.