Campus Luminarias to Light the Way for Mary and Joseph


Photo by Thomas Huval

(COVINGTON,La.) — The Luminarias have been a part of St. Paul’s Advent tradition for over 40 years, brought to the campus from Santa Fe and originally celebrated the night before the boarding students went back home for Christmas break. This year’s celebrations begins Thursday, Dec. 11, at 6 p.m. in Founder’s Circle.

“It was a custom in Santa Fe, and most of the brothers went to college there, and the Key Club thought it would be a good idea to bring it here,”  Bro. Jeffrey Calligan, FSC, explained who was at St. Paul’s the first year that the Luminarias were done.

“The first year, we just did the entrance road to the chapel and the pond. The second year we put a word in the stadium, and I think it was Peace. We always did caroling under the oak tree, but we were never very good at it,” Bro. Jeffrey said. “The day students would do it on Christmas Eve again for the people in the neighborhood.”

Kurt Shiell writes his intentions on his paper bag. The entire student body did this in a Wolf Pack session (Photo by Nick Ashton)

Kurt Shiell writes his prayer intentions on a paper luminaria bag. The entire student body did this in a recent Wolf Pack session so that the luminarias lining the campus will each represent the prayer intentions of the student body. (Photo by Nick Ashton)

After 41 years of the tradition adapting, the event has ended up on a school day in 2014 with Student Council moderator Joanna Case in charge.

“Many different groups go into planning. Student Council coordinates making the bags, Campus Ministry organizes the prayer service, the Jazz Band and Liturgical Band play during the caroling, and the Mothers Club makes the refreshments,” Case said.

Often occurring on a Sunday in the past, the Luminarias event was moved to a weekday due to Archbishop Aymond’s request to avoid holding school events on Sundays.

“I don’t think that it will be harder (to coordinate) this year than any other year. It is on a school day, but the guys know what they are doing,” said Case, confident that students can pull off the event without a full day to do it.

When asked if Case could give any hints about what the message in Hunter Stadium would be this year, she replied, “No, that is the best part. That is the mystery.”

Lining the entire campus in candlelight takes a significant number of man-hours. Students are encouraged to help set up the Luminarias Thursday immediately after school by reporting to the gym and meeting at the large sand pile.

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