All Saints Day: November 1st 2021
We’re two weeks away from All Saints Day – is your school ready?
While many teachers often flag November 1st for the post-Halloween, sugar-induced hyperactivity of their students, it’s actually a very important and note-worthy day for Catholic Schools.
For centuries, the Church has been annually celebrating All Saints Day as a way of honouring the lives of the beloved men and women who have been canonized as Saints. Across the globe, Catholics can be found following long-standing traditions unique to their own countries and cultures to honour the saints on this day.
In Canada, this day can easily be one that comes and goes in the flurry of activity surrounding Halloween – but honouring this feast can go a long way in keeping alive an important aspect of our Catholic faith.
There is nothing more mesmerizing or inspiring to young people than the real-life stories of men and women who lived heroic, courageous and radical lives. All Saints Day presents a unique opportunity to introduce students to the vast and beautiful treasure of stories held within the Church through the lives of the saints. In an increasingly secular culture, the retelling of saint stories is crucial in preserving the faith and inspiring students to follow in their footsteps.
While there are many different traditions worldwide, here are our top 5 favourite ideas for celebrating this special day with students!
1. Who are the saints? Engage students through meaningful stories!
Anyone who works with children knows that they are fascinated by a good story. The lives of the Saints are chock-full of exhilarating and inspiring stories which spark the imagination and faith of young people. Few stories compare to the courageous and radical life of someone like Saint Francis of Assisi who left his nobility and popularity to live among the poor and serve Christ. Or Saint Catherine of Siena who, centuries before women could be leaders in society, boldly persuaded the Pope to move back to Rome. The beatification of the tech-loving millennial, Blessed Carlo Acutis, had young people around the world drawn to and inspired by his love of the Eucharist. Telling these stories, honouring them and learning from them is what All Saints Day is all about.
Practical Tip: Have an All Saints Day dress up party! Have each student dress up or bring in something representing a specific Saint. Students can take turns saying some facts about their Saint and other students can guess who they are!
2. How does someone become a saint in the Church? Have students learn about this important Catholic process.
An excellent way to engage students in this celebration is to spend some time learning about this important process in our Church. This thorough procedure is taken seriously by Vatican officials and includes extensive investigations, personal testimonies and most interestingly, real miracles! It’s an excellent discussion topic which will inevitably garner many questions from curious students.
Practical Tip: Here’s an excellent video from Busted Halo to explain the process to students:
How do people become saints video: How Does the Catholic Church Declare Official Saints?
3. How do we become saints? Engage in discussions about how we are all called to be saints.
In 2013, Pope Francis tweeted,
” To be saints is not a privilege for the few, but a vocation for everyone.”
How did the Saints live? What set them apart and made their lives so admirable? How can we follow in their footsteps? Engaging students in these important discussions allows them to realize that these Saints are not only fascinating people, but their lives show us what we are called to live when we follow Jesus.
Practical Tip: After learning about some of the saints, have students write about the qualities they admire in them. Collect the list of qualities mentioned in the students’ writing and post these qualities on posters so that students (and teachers!) can be reminded of the saintly qualities for which they are striving this year!
4. Asking the saints to pray for us.
One of the most beautiful aspects of this Communion of Saints is that they can and will intercede for us. It’s important that we remind our students (and ourselves!) that we can ask the saints to pray for us in times of need.
Practical Tip: Spend some time researching the different feast days of your students’ favourite saints and make a class calendar to mark the dates. Gather your class on each feast day to spend a few moments asking for the intercession of each saint on their special feast day.
5. Choose a favourite for this year!
The Communion of Saints is made up of a diverse group of people from different eras, nationalities and backgrounds. Some of the saints were strong leaders while others lived quiet, hidden lives. This diversity is what makes each saint unique!
Practical Tip: Find one saint whose story stands out to your students and choose them to be the patron saint of your classroom for this school year. Create a little space in the classroom dedicated to this saint and use it as an opportunity to continuously learn about the life of this particular saint all year long.
Creating these faith-based school traditions is a fun and impactful way of passing on our Catholic faith to future generations in Canada. We pray that this year’s special feast brings joy and enthusiasm to your school halls and a renewed passion for the lives of the saints!
Send us a photo of your school or family celebrating All Saints Day! Tag us on twitter @CCSTAconnect and use the hashtag #2021AllSaintsCanada so we can see all of your great All Saints Day ideas!