“Mary is everyone’s mother and she deserves to be crowned,” altar server Henry Hilberg ‘29 explained.
This is the sentiment of many at Providence. The Statue of Mary is the first sight one sees when entering the building, standing quite literally at the heart of PA. And with a temporary outdoor shrine while the school awaits the construction of a permanent grotto, the PA community clearly holds a special devotion to the Mother of Jesus. So when Our Lady’s month of May rolled around, the Providence Lower School celebrated Our Lady in a special way with the annual May Crowning.
In front of the temporary shrine by the gates of the school, fifth-grade teacher Mrs. Kristine McElroy led students and teachers in singing “Bring Flowers of the Rarest” and “Immaculate Mary” and chanted The Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Chaplain Fr. Michael McClellan led the students in prayer, blessed Mary’s crown, and two of the First Communicants from earlier this spring, David Lewin ‘32 and Alex Ellison ‘32, placed the blessed crown on the statue of Mary.
The tradition of praying Marian devotionals and crowning a statue of Mary began in PA’s very first year.
Fifth-grade teacher and founder of this tradition Mrs. Beth Reopelle recounted the story behind May Crowning at PA: “I was able to start the tradition in my founding year, remembering my own time at Catholic school and wanting to pass that on to students here.”
She continued, “We’re teaching them devotionals because we learn a lot of intellectual things, but it’s something for the kids to put into practice.”
This tradition proved to be very beloved. McElroy reflected, “My favorite part is just looking out at all the students surrounding our Blessed Mother with the beautiful flowers, with children singing and praying and honoring Her and giving all their prayers and love to Mary. I just think about how we all surround Mary and give that praise to Her.”
In addition to the ceremony, Lower Schoolers prayed the rosary in their classrooms beforehand to honor Mary and ask for Her intercession. Students also brought bouquets of flowers to place in front of the Statue of Mary in the front entrance of the school as more gestures of love.
McElroy reflected on the day, “It’s a special way to honor Mary and I hope they remember that tradition as they grow older and continue their years through PA.”