Experiencing Mass in a small setting is the new norm at St. Joseph Catholic School (SJCS) in Winter Haven. Since the start of the school year, Pastor Father Jimson Varghese has been hosting a “class Mass” for students in every grade level. Teaching a full understanding of each part of the Eucharistic celebration, the students have an opportunity to get up close to the altar to learn about all of the components as they celebrate the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Student receive the Sacrament of the Body and the Blood of Christ in both forms. These special celebrations will continue throughout the rest of the 2019-2020 school year at SJCS.
Many classes have yet to experience this unique celebration, but Father Varghese intends to give every student this special opportunity. He hopes the Mass will help students understand the meaning of the Mass and learn more about it. “I attended the School Pastors’ Institute last summer,” explained Father Varghese. “There were over 100 pastors from all over the country. In the sharing session, many priests shared their experiences teaching the class Masses in their schools. I was inspired by their sharing.”
During the class Mass, the celebrant explains each part of the Mass in detail. The children sit on the floor of the sanctuary as Father Varghese explains the special significance of his garments and his actions involving the preparation of the Eucharist. Eighth-grader Arianna voiced that the experience was close up. She noted, “It taught us to better understand the Mass. When I observed him break the bread and place a piece in the wine, he explained the meaning to us.” The pastor noted this ancient custom served as reminder that Jesus is one, body and blood. Eventually it symbolized the ongoing Eucharistic celebration.
Father asked the students questions about the Mass, the parts of the Gospel and readings to test the students’ knowledge and ability to interpret the Bible. He said, “I hope at the end of this school year, every student in our school will come to know the deeper meaning of Christ’s mysteries and get closer to Jesus and his virtues.”
Following the class Mass, Father Varghese took the students on a tour of the sanctuary, confessional, dressing area for the priests, and choir loft.
Students at SJCS learn about their Catholic faith on a daily basis and attend school Mass every Wednesday. Most students also attend weekend Mass regularly. Knowing the special meaning of every part of the Mass provides the students with a deeper understanding of this beautiful liturgy of thanksgiving and worship, and enriches their Mass experience for the rest of their lives.
Article written by Kay W., an eighth-grader at St. Joseph Catholic School in. Winter Haven.
February 26, 2020