Most Tuesdays during the school year, St. Mary Hales Corners Parish school students attend the 8:15 a.m. liturgy. The students participate in several ways including liturgy planning, serving, proclaiming the First Reading and leading the assembly for the prayers of the faithful.
During the current school year, four 8th grade students have served in key roles. They include, musicians Nathan Holzhauer, Ian Horder and Joe McLaughlin, and assisting sacristan Luke Foye. Nathan plays piano, keyboard and organ during the liturgies while Ian and Joe handle percussion. The boys attribute their involvement to the support they received from parents and teachers. As early as sixth grade, Nathan was encouraged to take part in liturgy, saying he was, “So excited to be able to use the talents I received from God.”
Ian and Joe review the songs that will be played at the school Mass and then decide which instruments they will use, whether it be the conga drums, tambourine or other items. Joe said that he and Ian like to improvise, too. Ian remarked he always looks forward to the school liturgies, and noted that classmates always give positive feedback and support after they play. Joe said, “The best part of being a musician is serving God and my school.” All three musicians also perform in the school band.
Originally a server, Luke enthusiastically agreed three months ago to take on the larger role of assisting sacristan. Luke makes sure everything is set for Mass; his tasks include getting the hosts and wine ready, replacing candles, putting the sacred oil and supplies out if anointing will be part of the liturgy, and cleaning up afterward. Now he is training to serve as an assisting sacristan for weekend liturgies.
“The confidence and talent that these young men share is inspiring to young and old, and to me,” said Dan O’Connor, Director of Liturgy and Music. It is an example that the young are welcome and vital as members of our parish community, of the Catholic Church at large. In a day and age when there is a decline in the young feeling ‘connected’ to the church, these young men give us all hope for the future. We need to do much more of this as a church.”