Rev. Darrin Gurr, pastor at St. Gianna’s Church in Winnipeg, stands with children dressed in saintly costumes for the parish’s All Saints Day gathering, Nov. 1. (Photo courtesy of St. Gianna’s Church)
WINNIPEG — On Nov. 1 the Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of All Saints, teaching us that through Christ, who triumphed over death as the head of the church, we are connected with all members of the church, whether living or dead. On this day, we celebrate the church triumphant for those who have gained entry into heaven.
All Saints Day is a great holy day for children. It is both an opportunity to point to Christian heroes and heroines and a chance to explore God’s promise to be with us always and forever. All the saints share something: they did something remarkable or extraordinary in the name of God. As we learn more about these special people, we can discover ways we can deepen our devotion to following the path behind Jesus.
On the feast of All Saints, the parish family of St. Gianna Beretta Molla Church in Winnipeg celebrated with a liturgy that involved the Faith Formation children. The children were asked beforehand to pick a favourite saint or a saint, or one they didn’t know much about. They were asked to learn about their saint and then come dressed as him or her for the celebration.
The saints processed into the worship space to a triumphant, “When the Saints Come Marching in.” In Rev. Darrin Gurr’s homily, he asked each “saint” to introduce themselves and to tell everyone a bit more of what they learned about their saint. Saints ranged from well-known ones such as Mary, the mother of Jesus, to lesser-known saints such as St. Jose Brochero from Argentina, also known as the Gaucho Priest.
The saints ranged in age from the 11-year-old St. Maria Goretti to the 87-year-old St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta. They came from different countries, cultures, lifestyles, social status, education and professions.
Gurr asked who had dressed up for Halloween the previous evening. All the children raised their hands. When asked what they had dressed as, the answers included an alien, a pirate, a princess, and even a Kit Kat bar. Gurr explained that those are things you can likely never be, but being a saint is attainable. He advised the children to strive for the things of God and to use the saints as guides and role models. He emphasized that the saints were ordinary people who had an extraordinary love for Jesus, which we are all capable of experiencing.
At the end of the liturgy, the children were given a prayer card of the church’s patron, St. Gianna Beretta Molla.
Rachel Suarez-Banmann is pastoral associate at St. Gianna Beretta Molla Church, Winnipeg.