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Children collected infant clothing, here adorning the manger, in honor of Christ’s birth.

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Holy Name School inaugurates Advent curriculum
November 29th, 2016
By Valerie Schmalz

Holy Name of Jesus grade school students began “an Advent journey of daily reflections and intercessions” this week as the San Francisco school inaugurated a new Advent curriculum.

Each classroom prays and reflects for about 10 minutes over the classroom Advent wreath each day, said principal Natalie Cirigliano said. The new Advent curriculum has roles for the students so they can participate in various ways, said Kristin Sullivan, the kindergarten teacher who suggested the new approach.

“It just helps center the students,” Cirigliano said, who is in her second year as principal at Holy Name School. The daily prayer and readings remind students of the meaning of Advent, she said.

Traditionally, Advent wreathes are constructed of a circle of evergreen branches into which four candles are inserted, representing the four weeks of Advent. The progressive lighting of the candles symbolizes the expectation and hope surrounding our Lord’s first coming into the world and the anticipation of his second coming to judge the living and the dead, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops explains on its website.

Prayer, penance and almsgiving are all emphasized during Advent.

Holy Name continues its long standing tradition of collecting newborn clothing for single mothers in need to be placed in baskets near a crèche. The school has named the project the Christ Child Layette. All year round, the school of 332 K-8 students attends Mass on Thursdays, and the students and teachers will continue that through Advent, in addition to the special classroom Advent prayers each day.

The school enjoys preparing for Christmas in all its aspects, Cirigliano said.

“We have fun with Santa. We hide elves for the kids,” the principal said. However, she said, “We want them to remember what the real meaning of Christmas is and it is a time to be thankful for everything we have.”

Kindergarten teacher Sullivan, who is leading the schoolwide curriculum initiative, said it is based on an Advent Reflection exercise she learned at an archdiocesan religious certification workshop. The students also write in a prayer journal as part of the daily Advent reflection time.

The “Team of Light” is responsible for turning off the classroom lights and lighting the candle or wreath at the beginning of each prayer time, reciting the opening call to prayer to accompany the lighting of the candle or wreath; and extinguishing the candle or wreath and turning on the classroom light at the end of each prayer time.

The “lectors” are responsible for finding the daily reading in the Bible so that it may be read from the book and are also responsible for reading aloud the daily reading from Sacred Scripture for the benefit of the class.

The “timekeepers” are responsible for placing the stopwatch or other device and the chime in their appointed places before prayer, determining from the daily prayer script how much time will be taken for silence each day, serving as class timekeepers during silent meditation and during journaling by sounding the chime and keeping the time, and returning the chime and timekeeping device to their appointed places at the conclusion of each daily prayer.

The “prophets” are readers who offer the daily meditation recalling the times leading up to the birth of Christ. They are responsible for reading the brief meditation assigned for each day. They are also classroom student leaders for any schoolwide Advent/Christmas pageant or prayer service.

The “ministers” offer the daily prayer intention and read the brief meditation assigned for each day. With the teacher, the “ministers,” with the teacher, lead class discussion to decide on 15 prayer intentions for Advent. They are also responsible for the cards to be signed and sent for each day’s prayer intention.

The “apostles” offer the daily thought for building up the Reign of God, looking ahead to Christ’s second coming in glory. They read a brief meditation assigned for each day and are student leaders for a holiday service project.

From December 1, 2016 issue of Catholic San Francisco.


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