FAIRFIELD— Students at Notre Dame Catholic High School in Fairfield swapped their usual Monday class schedules on December 11 for a full range of activities to honor the Patroness of their school, the Blessed Virgin Mary.
“Our Lady’s Day,” designed and coordinated by Notre Dame’s Director of Campus Ministry Jessica Medoff, celebrated the fellowship, generosity of spirit, and faith of the school’s community.
The morning opened with a Mass in the Sacred Heart Chapel of the Holy Spirit led by Fr. Ed McAuley, a 1965 graduate of Notre Dame. Mass intentions included the mothers of current students who were invited to sit in the front pews with their children by their sides. A special musical performance by the Yale University a cappella group Mixed Company added to the celebration.
The day continued at school with live performances by Notre Dame’s band and chorus. Rounding out the schedule were several speakers, a viewing of a student-directed video, and rotations of service activities, crafts, and trivia games with questions about Notre Dame and Our Lady.
Lunch featured selections from Mexico, Ireland, France, Italy, and China—countries in which Mary has appeared.
Students, faculty, and staff also packaged 10,000 meals of rice and protein that will be sent to undernourished children in Africa by an organization called Rise Against Hunger. And many students crafted Christmas cards and decorations that were later donated to local nursing homes.
Events concluded with the first annual Notre Dame Marian Awards for which students and faculty were awarded for their outstanding moral character, faith, patience, and generosity.
Our Lady’s Day also amplified an important aspect of Notre Dame’s new strategic plan, Raising the Bar—ND 2020. “The overall plan is our commitment to what we want Notre Dame to become over time,” Principal Christopher Cipriano explains. “Our Lady’s Day embodied the Transforming Faith pillar of the plan. It is a promise to strengthen the knowledge, love, and practice of the Catholic faith. These events on December 11 enhanced our opportunities for faith practice and to learn more about our devotion to Notre Dame, Our Lady.”
“It really was a wonderful day during which we saw the students be disciples of Jesus,” Medoff reflects. “They were able to hear God’s Word in Mass and then live out their faith by performing acts of service and celebrating community in Christian fellowship. It was a celebration of who we are and our dedication to our faith.”
“I really enjoyed the Mass honoring the Blessed Mother and all mothers in attendance,” reflects parent Debbie Carrara, whose son, Matthew is a student at Notre Dame. “The music was exceptional and it was a great way to start preparing for the Lord by honoring Mary.”
Her son Matthew agrees that the Mass was his favorite part of the day. He also enjoyed the service activities. “I felt good knowing that packing the rice for Africa and making Nativity decorations would make a difference in people’s lives,” he says. “I knew we were helping others and bringing them joy.”
Deacon John DiTaranto, who was involved in the planning, was touched by events of the day. “It was incredibly successful. One of my favorite parts was during our Closing Assembly, where we had students line up with blue and white balloons and they lifted them up as they prayed decades of the rosary in several languages. It was a beautiful representation of our community of faith.”
Written by Jill K. Caseria | Photos by Michelle Rogers