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Forming the Future: Holy Name Parish School decorates 'Trees of Hope and Peace'

  • Gianna Welter, a fifth-grade student at Holy Name Parish School in West Roxbury, decorates a Christmas tree as part of the school's "Trees of Hope and Peace" program. Pilot photo/courtesy Holy Name Parish School
  • The decorated trees stand outside Holy Name School. Pilot photo/courtesy Holy Name Parish School

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WEST ROXBURY -- Holy Name Parish School adopted a new tradition in Advent 2019: having students decorate Christmas trees, called "Trees of Hope and Peace," and displaying them outside the school throughout the liturgical season.

Each class in the school received a Christmas tree, donated by Allendale Farm in Brookline. Each tree was decorated with purple, pink, or white ribbon to correspond with the candles in an Advent wreath, which symbolize hope, faith, joy, peace, and the birth of Christ. The students also put white lights on the trees as well as ornaments of angels, peace doves, stars, nativity scenes, and words conveying the themes of the Advent candles.

Decorating the trees gave teachers and students an opportunity to talk about the meaning of Advent.

"The students were so proud to be an active part of this celebration of the Advent season. The children felt a strong connection and greater awareness of what the Advent season represents," school secretary Maureen O'Malley said.

The school's "Festival of Lights Advent Celebration" officially began with a prayer service and lighting ceremony on Dec. 4.

Celia Mitchell, a fifth-grade student and the school's religious commissioner, opened the ceremony with a prayer. O'Malley lit the trees, and the Holy Name Parish youth choir led everyone in singing Christmas carols.

"This Advent Celebration brought our community together to do something meaningful and fun, to celebrate the true meaning of the Christmas season," Celia said in a statement the school shared with The Pilot.

Kathleen Caulfield, the principal of Holy Name Parish School, called the trees an "active, visual reminder of the importance of praying and working toward peace in our world."

"This celebration brought our community together, reminding us of the true meaning of Advent -- to spread hope and peace throughout the season and beyond. Due to the state of our world at this time we wanted to impress upon our community the need for hope and peace. Our Trees for Hope and Peace represent that, they are a beacon of light representing the light that Jesus Christ brings to our world through his birth," Assistant Principal Debra Buckley said.

The trees were kept on display until Jan. 13, in order to include the feast of the Baptism of the Lord on the previous day. Holy Name Parish School plans to make this festival an annual event.

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