Madison Peters delicately placed a crown of roses atop a Marian statue as students sang the Salve Regina — a fitting celebration for the Queen of the Universe and kickoff to Immaculate Conception School’s spring day of faith May 18 in Dardenne Prairie.
For the past 10 years, classes have been canceled once a semester to give students an entire day to grow in their personal faith and as a community. Principal Michelle Knapp sees the day as not just an opportunity to provide spiritual formation to students, but to embrace the school’s central mission.
“Faith is integrated in all that we do, but having the opportunity to dedicate an entire day to our faith puts an emphasis on the faith and shows our students and our community how important the faith is,” Knapp said. “We are not just a school with faith. This is a faith-filled school.”
Following the May crowning ceremony, pastor Msgr. Ted Wojcicki celebrated an all-school Mass honoring the Blessed Virgin. Then, students split up into their faith families.
Integral to students’ formation, faith families are composed of students from each grade level. The families meet throughout the year to pray, participate in activities and build community.
“By building that community in the faith families, it gives older students a leadership role, and it helps the younger students feel like this is their home and that they have an important purpose here,” said Tina Wilson, coordinator of religious education.
Throughout the morning, students rotated through various activities with their faith families — praying a walking Rosary, decorating parking spots with chalk-drawn religious imagery and playing outside together.
“When I was younger, being with the older students was one of my favorite parts of days of faith,” eighth-grader Claire Corley said. “Now as an eighth-grader, to be able to teach and help the younger kids grow in their faith is my favorite part.”
The afternoon sessions focused on growing students’ devotion to the Eucharist. Kristi Dettinger, founder of the Real Presence Education Foundation, presented three talks to students about Blessed Carlos Acutis and eucharistic miracles. Dettinger brought a relic of Blessed Carlos for students to pass around. Students then participated in eucharistic adoration and praise and worship to complement the intellectual formation.
“While we talk about many different things, the whole goal is to help students realize that Jesus is truly present when they go to Mass and that they are taking in His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity into them when they receive Communion,” Dettinger said.
The guiding principle of the day of faith is to help students realize that the Catholic faith is anything but boring.
“I hope that during these days of faith, students have fun and learn,” Knapp said, “that they see that the faith is not boring, it’s not dull, but that it is alive and rich.”