The St. Paul’s School faculty and student body devoted their Mar. 25 through 29 week as a time of deep prayer and reverence to God, before embarking upon a week of relaxation during the Easter holidays. The St. Paul’s traditional celebration of Holy Week culminated on Wednesday with the Passion Play and on Thursday with the Mandatum, also known as the Washing of the Feet ceremony, before dismissing the school to a week-long Easter break.
“Holy Week is the most important time of the year for Christians,” said Religion Teacher Luke Barwick. “We have the opportunity to reflect on Jesus’ Paschal Mystery and how much God loves us — it is incredible!”
To the students and faculty of St. Paul’s School, Holy Week is a culmination of the prayer done during the Lenten season to set the stage for Easter week, a celebratory period of time for Christians.
The highlighted events of Holy Week begin each year on Wednesday with the annual Passion Play, a depiction of the Passion, death, and crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Every year, the Marian Players collaborate with a group of alumni, faculty, and student musicians to stage the reenactment for the students. The play begins with Jesus’ actions with his disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane and ends with the death and burial of Christ.
The next event was the Mandatum, a prayer service that takes place on Holy Thursday.
“The prayer service highlights what Jesus did by washing the feet of His Apostles. He ‘mandated’ that they were to go out and do the same — to love one another as He loved them,” explained Barwick.
Before this event, members of the faculty, students, and community members were chosen in order to participate in a washing of the feet ceremony performed by the Student Council President Connor Mahony and Vice President Justin Elzy.
Barwick, coordinator of the Mandatum, said, “I wanted to have a wide representation of people who are involved with the school. Also, I wanted to have some family connections, such as Connor Mahony and his mom, Marc Lavie and his mom, and Justin and Francois Elzy.”
“We had teachers, students, the Development Office, and a wonderful lady representing the cafeteria all participate in the washing of the feet,” continued Barwick. “I also picked the people to lead the prayer intentions and proclaim the Word of God. The highlight was the spontaneous prayer from Mr. Russell, who works in the Maintenance Department.”
Barwick added, “I expected it to be simple, beautiful, and prayerful, and I was not let down. I thought the students were exceptional, and that touched my heart. The Liturgical Band, the Jazz Band, and Bro. Ken made the service just that more special.”
Bro. Ken Boesch, F. S.C., participated in the event by playing musical selections on piano during the foot-washing portion of the service. Religion Teacher Christian Bobak also offered a reflection about the meaning of “service.” In addition, the Jazz Band joined the Liturgical Band to play a powerful version of “Just a Closer Walk with Thee” as a reflection song and to add a full horn arrangement to the school’s Lenten anthem, “O That Shame,” which prompted the student body to spontaneously rise and robustly sing the final chorus.