Outdoor ceremony celebrates Mary

DANBURY—Dozens of young catechists and their families gathered at the Grotto of Mary outside of St. Joseph Church to honor her with prayers and songs and place beautiful bouquets of vibrant-colored flowers at her feet.

The outdoor ceremony marked the culmination of catechism classes for the youngsters with the tradition of the Crowning of Mary, the Divine Mother of God.

“Thankfully, the Lord gave us a nice day so we could be outside for this,” said Lynn Smierciak, director of Religious Education.

“This is a great turnout especially since we did all Zoom classes,” said Deacon Donald Naiman, as he and his wife, Stephania watched the children and their families gather. The couple taught the second-grade catechists. The religious education program was completely virtual this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The ceremony opened with everyone singing “Immaculate Mary” while the children placed flowers in vases at the foot of the Virgin Mary statue, which was adorned with a crown of flowers.

Following the readings and the close of the ceremony, those gathered prayed a decade of the rosary.

“Try to say one Rosary every day to pray for an end to the pandemic,” Smierciak said, referencing the pope’s recent initiative for a “Marathon of Prayer” for an end to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The tradition of reciting the Rosary or the Crowning of Mary in May was one of many traditions being honored on this day.

“I was raised in the Catholic Church and went to parochial school. We celebrated the May Crowning and I think it’s a wonderful tradition,” said Stacy Brown, who was there with her daughter, Cameron.

“It’s important to look to Mary as the Mother of Jesus for strength especially at this time of the pandemic,” Brown said.

Her daughter Cameron was grateful to be with her classmates.

“It was nice to come and see everyone (in person),” said Cameron, a fourth-grade student who attended classes on Zoom.

Veronica Ramirez and her daughter Chloe, who is in the third grade, also attended the afternoon event. Chloe was wearing a special pendant of the Virgin Mary, a pendant that was given to her mother when she received her First Holy Communion at St. Joseph.

“I used to go to school here,” Veronica said. “It’s nice to come back and reminisce.”

Third-grader Caden Regan and his first-grade brother Carter were also in attendance for the event, bringing with them bright yellow bouquets of flowers.

“It’s important to honor Mary because she was the mother of Jesus,” Caden said, adding that learning about the story of Adam and Eve was one of the most memorable lessons from the program for him.

Deacon Naiman said the lessons learned throughout the program provide a solid foundation for the children to build upon throughout their lives.

“It’s very important because we live in a day of cultural collisions of different values in our society and some of these values aren’t always nurturing,” he said, adding that it is important for everyone to know that they can go to Mary at any time with their needs.

“Mary is there for them,” Naiman said. “It is a very special relationship.”

By Kathy-Ann Gobin