By Carolyn Marnon – The church was filled with children, young and old, as they all gathered to celebrate the final Mass at St. Mary Catholic School on June 6. The mass commemorated the school’s 94 year history and that of its dedicated administration, faculty and families.
The sanctuary grew louder as more people filled the room, conversations were taking place, memories were being shared and hugs were being given.
As the procession began for one last time, thanks were given for the past. Symbols were upheld: a candle for the light of Jesus, the crest, a mosaic of Mary made up of individual photos of the school community. Students rang bells, a tambourine and something that sounded like a low-tone bullhorn.
Two young students with beautiful voices sang “Let Us Go Rejoicing.”
Visitors were welcomed to mark the special moment in St. Mary’s Parish at the closing of the school. Blessings were asked for in the present moment and that God would be with everyone. The speaker joked that the children who were waiting on their summer vacation to start were feeling a little bit different on this day than the former students who were there reminiscing. Each had a different set of emotions.
It was hoped that all would look forward with confident hope on journeys that couldn’t be imagined.
As the sun streamed through the stained glass windows, those gathered were asked not to forget the men and women who served in the school, the students that were educated there, the parishioners who supported the school and the parents who brought their children to the school.
After prayers recited by a selection of children, some wearing their school uniforms, students sang “Go Ye Into the World.”
“Today, my heart aches, but I know your heart does too,” said Principal Kathy Sparks as she gave an emotional, tear-filled speech. With her voice cracking, she told the students “No matter where you go, God will walk with you. Go forward and create the community you experienced here.”
Teachers were asked to stand so that they may be honored. Students brought forward floral bouquets and presented them to the teachers. One teacher was seen wiping tears from her eyes.
After a standing ovation with much clapping, all were invited to a reception in the hall and a chance to visit the school.
With the final hymn, “We Are Marching,” the final school mass of St. Mary’s Catholic School in Wayne came to a close.