SAYBROOK TOWNSHIP — One of the many traditions of Saint John’s School is practicing Stations of the Cross every year. This year with the help of Religion teacher Marilou McClimans and a group of students, the school put a new twist on the tradition that had them performing it not only at Saint John, but at local churches.
Stations of the Cross are done during Lent, Holy Week, and especially Good Friday. It commemorates fourteen key events that happened on the day of Christ’s crucifixion. Most of them concern his final walk to Jerusalem as he was carrying the Cross.
At Saint John, usually a class gathers in a group and walks from one station to another. Each station has an assigned reader to read about what happened to Jesus at the station. The reader also holds a candle to represent the Light of Christ. The listeners usually have a response to say after each reading. It is an amazing event that unifies the school and can be incredibly moving.
This year, the school did something that they hadn’t done before, called White Face, or “We Were There.” High school teacher Marilou McClimans got together a group of students willing to participate and show their faith. In White Face, students cover their entire face in white makeup, erase their own identity, and put on the role of a biblical character. One student is chosen to represent Jesus, sophomore Jacob Emerson, while the rest play apostles. Jesus is distinguished by putting a cross on his forehead.
“It really was an amazing experience” said Emerson. “It brightened up the experience and made it so we weren’t just sitting around. It was fun.”
Not only did the students perform it at the school, but also with the people of Corpus Christi Parish and at Saint Joseph Church. The ceremony was led by religion teacher Marilou McClimans and the readers included Principal Nick Perkoski, and teachers Mrs. Robinson and Mrs. Crookston.
Most of the students who participated were engaged in theater and were used to portraying someone else. However, a few students branched from their comfort zone and participated to express their faith. Drama Club director Jenean Kile and assistant Tiffani Murphy helped the students get into character. Marilou McClimans has done many activities to help students leave their comfort zone and strengthen their faith, such as write an essay in first person as if you were there during an event in Holy Week.
Unlike other schools, Saint John has a special bond as a family because of the religious events they get to experience, as well as the small size of the school. Coming together as a school to celebrate something all the students believe in makes their relationships stronger with God and with each other.
“It’s a live faith experience which enables people from the Parishes to experience what we do here at Saint John,” said McClimans.
The Saint John students enjoyed watching and participating in the different and theatrical take of acting out the Stations of the Cross using “White Face,” and hope that the event will make an encore appearance next year during Holy Week.