By: Quinn Brosnahan ‘17
Prayer services have always been a very important aspect of attending school at Brother Rice. For students, prayer services and masses always seem to come at the perfect time. They serve as a get-away. A time and a place to relax and focus on something other than academics. Prayer services have lasting effects on each individual, but the effects they have are all very different.
Last month, Campus Minister Joe Augustyn and his Peer Ministry classes began to brainstorm for a service to be done on Tuesday, April 11. This would be the final service before the student body was released for Easter break, so they knew it had to be a good one. Rather than just bringing students up to the podium and reading generic words about the Passion of Christ, our peer ministers had their eyes set on something different- something that would make a real impact.
Their initial idea was to perform the living Stations of the Cross. They began to assign roles and assemble props. Although this surely would have been a magnificent performance, the men ran into a few obstacles. Unfortunately, they could not get their hands on any costumes and it proved very difficult to find women roles in an all boys student-body. So, the class went back to the drawing board.
Eventually, a few students pitched the idea of putting a modern twist on the Stations of the Cross. They figured that the student body may have gotten tired of hearing the same Stations every year and was not finding the connection to our daily lives. In the end, all the pieces fell perfectly into place and the peer ministers displayed arguably the most successful service all year. Campus Minister Joe Augustyn was extremely pleased with the result stating, “This prayer service got the most compliments from faculty that I’ve ever gotten on any of the prayer services I’ve done.”
So what made this assembly so much different? According to Augustyn, it was because the seniors who wrote the reflections for the service actually did some “real reflecting.” Here’s how the service worked: Senior Cal Konecki carried a big wooden cross all across the gym floor. Various peer ministers formed a path and waited in groups of two until the cross made it to their assigned station. From there, the first peer minister read a brief summary of their Station and followed it up with a personal reflection.
Their goal was to keep the audience engaged and display how the Stations of the Cross are applicable to our daily lives. For example, senior Joe Sweeney was assigned to read the First Station (Jesus is Condemned to Death). After he finished with the description of the station, he followed it up with a story about a time he condemned his friend for skipping out on a football game. Other peer ministers made connections like failing a test and losing a loved one. It was the connections like these that made the service so effective. Following each reflection, the other peer minister lit a candle and the cross moved on to the next station . After the cross reached all 14 Stations, it was stood up in the center of the gym floor. Each peer minister then came forward and laid their candle at the base of the cross. It was a beautiful tribute to our Lord and a great way to conclude the service.
What followed the prayer service is what really made the day so special. Students and teachers could not stop talking about it. It seemed like everyone who was in the gym that morning felt a strong spiritual impact. The personal twist on each of the stations forced the school community to really think- something that every prayer service should make you do. English teacher Mrs. Donnelly discussed the service with her classes saying that making the connection between the past and present is so very important, and that is exactly what our peer ministers did. Senior Jake Hutchinson said that it was the most interesting prayer service he has experienced during his four years at Rice. It is safe to say Joe Augustyn and his Peer Ministry class accomplished their goal.