After students received the Peace Light, which originated at the grotto in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, each grade processed back to their respective classrooms. (Submitted photo)
Catholic Herald Staff
St. Patrick Catholic School in Hudson was honored with the presence of the Bethlehem Peace Light in December.
As posted to the school’s Facebook page, Tricia Pieper, St. Patrick’s director of communication and media teacher, explained that each year, a child from Upper Austria is chosen and Austrian Airlines flies them and their family to Tel Aviv, Israel. The family then travels to the Grotto in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem where the child transfers the flame – which has been tended to for more than 1,000 years – to two blast-proof miners’ lamps.
Austrian Airlines then flies the family and the lamps back to Vienna, from which point the Peace Light is distributed at a dedication service to delegations from across Europe, who take it back to their own countries with a message of peace.
The airline then flies the miners’ lamps with the Peace Light to New York City, where they arrived Dec. 4. Transferring from one lantern to another, volunteers passed the flame throughout the country.
On Friday, Dec. 9, Ron Ross of Shoreview, Minnesota, transported the Peace Light to Hudson from the southwest side of the Twin Cities, where first- and fourth-grade students of St. Patrick’s School welcomed him. They escorted the light to the chapel, where a special lantern was waiting.
Then on Monday, Dec. 12, the entire school gathered for a lighting ceremony in the gym from where the Peace Light was shared with each classroom.
Families and parishioners were encouraged to bring a candle from home to light and then take the Peace Light into their homes for the Christmas season.
Pieper began the lighting service with a reading from the Gospel of John, chapter 1:1-5, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
That passage provided the focal point for students to reflect on Jesus as the light of the world. Pieper went on to share that, in order to bring peace into the world, “We all must start with peace in our own heart … If every person did this, no matter their age, we would truly have peace on earth!”
After learning about the Peace Light and its journey from the grotto in Bethlehem and the Church of the Nativity just a few weeks prior, each grade came forward to light their own classroom candle from the flame. The students then processed back to their rooms, where the Peace Light would be left burning in their respective class prayer corners.
“What a beautiful way to teach our students about the light of Christ and the peace he brings to our world,” Pieper said.