BREMERTON – On Halloween, students at Our Lady Star of the Sea School in Bremerton won’t be roaming the halls in princess or Batman costumes — they’ll be dressed as saints.
Every year, the school creates a Living Saints Museum to celebrate All Saints’ Day and deepen students’ knowledge about the saints’ lives. The effort starts in September when each student in grades K-8 chooses a saint to research.
“The saints are special people who were always thinking about Jesus and God,” said 7-year-old Amelia Hadfield, who this year chose St. Zita, patron of domestic workers. “She was the only good saint left,” Amelia explained.
Students choose their saints from a list provided by their teacher, and a student can’t research a saint more than once. “No repeats,” said Principal Jeannette Wolfe.
Amelia, for instance, researched St. Bridget in kindergarten and St. Rose of Lima last year, when she was in first grade. But her favorite is St. Amelia, because they share their name.
After doing their research, students design costumes representing their saints and prepare oral reports (students in grades 5-8 also do a written report).
Second-grader Amelia Hadfield, dressed as St. Zita costume is ready for the All Saints Day celebration at in Bremerton. Amelia’s costume was sewn by her principal, Jeannette Wolfe, left. Photo: Courtesy of Our Lady Star of Sea School
“It is a great opportunity for the kids to meet our older brothers and sisters in the faith,” said Father Derek Lappe, pastor of Our Lady Star of the Sea Parish, who began the event six years ago. “When the kids are learning about the saints, they are learning not only the miraculous and heroic virtue of the saints, but also they are learning about how they can be like their saints.”
The saints museum is usually held on All Saints’ Day, Nov. 1, but that falls on a Saturday this year. So on Halloween, the day will begin with the “saints” gathered at 9 a.m. Mass, where Father Lappe will interview a student from each grade in front of the congregation. After Mass, students go to “pilgrimage sites” (assigned classrooms) and get ready for visitors. Parents, grandparents and parishioners come to see and hear the “saints,” who give their speeches to as many “pilgrims” as they can.
The Living Saints Museum is ingrained in the school’s culture. “We make sure new families know about it months in advance so they aren’t surprised,” Wolfe said.
A popular school auction item is Wolfe’s offer to sew a saint costume for a student selected by the highest bidder. This year, Wolfe is stitching Amelia’s St. Zita attire. “It makes me feel good that Mrs. Wolfe is sewing my costume,” Amelia said. “I feel very special.”
The best part of the Living Saints Museum, said organizer Genevieve Cowen, is the message the kids get. “We have so many poor role models in the media today,” Cowen said, “but with this, [they] get to learn about saints who led good lives to emulate.”