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The Episcopal School in North Philadelphia

IMG_0293Our Holy Week journey began by celebrating Palm Sunday during our weekly Thursday Mass. The school community gathered at the schoolhouse and then processed with palms to the Church of St. James the Less. During the service, students and staff members participated in a reading of the Passion gospel.

Our Holy Week celebration continued with Maundy Thursday mass. Students learned that ‘Maundy’ derives from the Latin mandatum or commandment. Jesus Christ, at the Last Supper, commanded: And now I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. – John 13:34. To further remember the Last Supper, Head of School David Kasievich, Principal Laura Dimery, Deacon Andrew Kellner and School Chaplain Lorna Williams washed the staff and students’ feet. This act reminded our school community of the importance of humility and service to each other.

holy-week-easter-stjamesOn Friday, our school community gathered again in Church of St. James the Less to commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Students and staff read the passion of Christ according to John aloud, followed by Solemn Collects. Everyone was then invited to venerate the Cross by presenting a palm cross at the crucifix and offering up to Jesus a burden or pain they are currently experiencing. The service concluded in solemn silence as the altar was stripped.

Our school celebrated the hope and joy of life renewed during our Easter mass the following Thursday. Our community gathered to celebrate Christ’s Resurrection and the triumph of hope over despair and life over death. During her sermon, Mother Williams showed the students an egg as an Easter symbol of new life and the infinite promise of the resurrection; just as chicks break through the shell of an egg while hatching, so has Christ broken open the bonds of death.

It was truly a joy to experience the holy mysteries of Holy Week and Easter together as a school community. This time was a valuable opportunity to remember, commemorate, and celebrate the mystery of the Last Supper, the crucifixion and the death of Jesus, and the Resurrection to new life.