Last Friday, on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, we at Educate Magis facilitated the first Virtual Global Christmas Prayer using Connected Classrooms. Connected Classrooms is a new tool we recently added to the Educate Magis platform which allows members to connect their classrooms via video. To celebrate and share our wishes together as a global network we brought together 8 schools from 7 different countries across 4 different regions of the world. I think, I speak for everyone when I say it was a wonderful, exciting and heart-warming experience.
We would like to give a special thanks to the teachers and students who made this gathering possible, and for bringing wonderful messages of hope and love to our community and to the world.
We began the experience with an introduction by Eileen O’Donohue, the Ethos Coordinator of the Jesuit school here in Galway, Ireland – Coláiste Iognáíd. Eileen welcomed all of the schools and thanked everyone for being with us. We were reminded that eventhough we are thousands of kilometers apart and in very different cultures and contexts, we are all united by the universal mission of Jesuit schools.
We began our round the world trip of Jesuit schools’ Christmas Wishes with our neighbours in Mount St. Mary’s, Sheffield in the UK. Unfortunately, despite having tested the sound, a few days earlier, we couldn’t hear the students at Mount St. Mary’s but could see their first excited and then disappointed faces (which would later light up once again through an unexpected approach from their part to get their message delivered).
Promising to come back again later, we continued our virtual journey with a stop off in Kostka High School, Poland with a group of students from their English class sitting around in a semi-circle, with their Director Fr. Pawel, smiling and waving. One of the students told us a little about Kostka school in Krakow, in the South of Poland and Fr. Pawel then shared their Christmas wish for the global network of Jesuit schools, adding “we are very excited be part of a huge network of Jesuit schools”.
The next stop on our trip was in St. Xavier’s Higher Secondary school in Bettiah, India where the Principal, some students and one of their teachers had stayed on until 8:30pm to join us! One of their students shared some of the history of the school which is located just 65kms from the Nepal boarder and was built in 1998 after the need arose for an English medium school in a town where the majority of the population speak either Hindi or Bhojpuri. Another student shared their global wish, finishing by wishing that “the Jesuit schools prepare men and women for others who are persons of conscience, competence, compassion and commitment who will make the world our home”.
We continued our trip to the West Coast of the United States where we were joined by St. Ignatius College Prep in San Francisco where some students had come in at 7am to be a part of this Global Christmas Prayer. After telling us a bit about their school, located in the San Francisco Bay area, next to the ocean and how they had very intelligently decided to become co-ed in 1989 one of the students shared their Christmas wish for Jesuit schools around the world, praying that “Christmas is a time of healing, sharing, giving and love”.
From the West Coast of the US we travelled to León, Mexico where we were joined by some students from 3rd Grade Junior High in Instituto Lux. The students began with “Greetings to all who, like us, strive to become men and women for others” and continued, taking turns to share their wishes. One which stood out in particular was “May you feel free and full of wishes and intentions to become a better person. We hope you are surrounded by your loved ones, in an environment of peace, hope, solidarity, love and fun”.
From there we travelled over to the east of the US to St. Ignatius Loyola Academy in Baltimore, Maryland where Mr. Attenoukon’s 6th grade religion class shared with us. The boys had each drawn a beautiful Christmas picture which they held up for all to see. Standing around the camera wearing Christmas hats, one student introduced us to the school and another shared their wish for us all; “we wish that the lessons and opportunities afforded to us through Jesuit education are made available throughout the world. We wish to establish a closer connection with Christ and to avoid the materialism and divisiveness that is plaguing our world”. They finished by wishing that “no one has to live a life of fear”.
The final school we visited before we returned back to Ireland was St. Bonaventure’s in Newfoundland, Canada. The students here told us the school, which has 361 students from Kindergarten up to Grade 12, had just celebrated their 161st birthday. The 6th grade students, who were watching the Global Christmas Prayer event on a big screen in their hall, then wished us “the peace and joy of the Christmas Season.” Adding, “we know that peace starts with each one of us, and we hope when we send our sprit of peace and good will for Christmas and all the year through, that each one of you will spread that spirit to those around you”.
Having returned to Mount St. Mary’s a few times in-between to test the sound, we tried one last time. Unfortunately, it was just not meant to be and we still couldn’t hear them. However, in the meantime, Alison’s class together with the chaplain Maria had come up with a wonderfully creative alternative. They had written their wish, to be shared with the global network of Jesuit schools, on sheets of paper which they held up in front of the camera and I read them aloud. I think it’s safe to say this creative idea got the loudest applaud and it warmed our hearts to see the students faces light up again!
We then returned back to the Educate Magis office where we were joined by 4 students from Coláiste Iognáíd who took turns introducing the school, explaining Transition Year (a year between Junior Cycle and Senior Cycle where students are encouraged to explore different subjects and projects, get work experience and find themselves) and mentioning the subjects and sports offered in their school. They finished by wishing “everyone good luck in their upcoming exams and in their exam years” and wishing that everyone “perform to the best of their ability” finishing by waving and wishing everyone a “Merry Christmas”.
After this exciting and colourful experience, we all prayed the Our Father together, with everyone invited to pray in the language they felt most comfortable with. We in the Educate Magis office prayed in Gaelic and Spanish. We all clapped, cheered, waved at the other schools and finished what was a very successful and fun Global Christmas Prayer.
Now it is your turn to share your Christmas wishes with the community; enter here and let’s keep on bringing hope and love to all throughout this holiday season!