Dressed as their favorite saint, St. Joseph School, Toms River, students line up at the start of Mass Nov. 1. Courtesy photo
Dressed as their favorite saint, St. Joseph School, Toms River, students line up at the start of Mass Nov. 1. Courtesy photo

On the Solemnity of All Saints, Catholic school students from around the Diocese joined with faithful from throughout the world for the celebration of Mass during which they recalled and offered thanks for the lives and good examples set by those men and women who have been declared saints by the Church.

PHOTO GALLERY: Schools observe All Saints Day

In some schools, a highlight of the Nov. 1 Holy Day of Obligation was giving students an opportunity to learn more about the saints through research and writing reports on how the saints reached their heavenly reward by living virtuous lives and responding to the call to holiness. There were also schools that invited their students to bring their saints to life by dressing as their favorite saint and sharing some information about the saint.

Before Mass in St. Mary of the Lakes School, Medford, class representatives in grades PreK4 through five, who were dressed as their class patron saint, processed into the auditorium as “When the Saints Go Marching In” was sung. Class representatives in grades six through eight read a short description on the life of their class patron while another student placed a picture of the saint on a table near the front of the altar.

In his homily, Father Daniel Swift, pastor of St. Mary of the Lakes Parish, spoke of how Nov. 1 “is so much better than Halloween because it allows us to celebrate the lives of men and women of faith who are now saints.

“These saints were ordinary people who led extraordinary lives all because they loved God,” said Father Swift. “Each of us is called upon to live our lives modeled after those of the saints.”

In Trenton Catholic Academy, Hamilton, where Mass was celebrated in the gym by Father Augusto Gamalo, chaplain, the community began by remembering in prayer five saints who hold special significance to the school – St. Anthony of Padua, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, St. Juan Diego, Venerable Carlo Acutis and Blessed Chiara ‘Luce’ Badano, according to Rose O’Connor, the school’s marketing director. As O’Connor introduced and read a brief description on those saints, a student, who was dressed as that saint, processed forward.

“Today we gather together as a school community to celebrate All Saints Day,” said O’Connor. “This is a day when the Church gives thanks to God for all of the holy men and women who have gone before us and lived their lives in a way pleasing to God.”

Other schools where students had special involvement in All Saints Day Masses included St. Benedict, Holmdel, where the school choir provided the music for the Mass and sung the Litany of the Saints, and St. Joseph School, Toms River, where the first graders dressed as their favorite saint and participated in the entrance procession at the start of Mass.