May 26, 2010 // Local

Blessed Mother crowned during annual May Procession at St. Matthew School

A carnation is set in a vase at the foot of the statue of the Blessed Mother.

By Karen Clifford

SOUTH BEND — With the rain clouds breaking, it was as if divine intervention had occurred for St. Matthew School’s May procession as it began. On May 21, 346 students dressed in their best finery lined both floors of the school in anticipation of the afternoon’s ceremony to process, honor and crown Mary, the Blessed Mother, in the diocese’s co-cathedral in South Bend.

Principal Mary Anne Retseck remarked that the May procession has been an annual event for 50 years at St. Matthew School. Prior to the procession’s start, second graders, who had recently made their first Communion, were among the younger students forming a line on the first floor. On the second floor, the school’s May queen, her court and an honor court of eighth-grade boys, descended the stairs adorned with carnations, along with other classmates.

Msgr. Michael Heintz, rector of St. Matthew Cathedral, was keenly aware of the significance of the celebration. “The May Procession is one of the most beautiful celebrations of Marian devotion the children of the cathedral school experience during their time here. It’s truly one of the highlights of the year and they all take pride in participating in it. Its importance lies in helping the children to experience the genuine Marian dimension intrinsic to Christian faith. I am always deeply moved by their devotion, reverence and love for God.”

Brad Monnin, one of the honor guards, remarked that the procession was special because it honors Mary the Mother of God and it was a tradition at the school. Gabi Flores, who was a part of the May Queen Court, emphasized the blessings that Mary gives to all people on earth made the day exceptional.

Students from St. Matthew School process from the school to the cathedral during the annual May Procession.

May queen Abby Mehall was selected by her eighth-grade class as the person who represents Mary in her class behavior and friendship. Mehall stated that the Blessed Mother has been a major inspiration in her life. “My grandmother and I used to go to the grotto of Notre Dame to pray when I was younger and Mary’s influence stayed with me.”
The students processed slowly and reverently from the school building to the pews inside the cathedral. With parents in attendance, the children took their seats and watched as the color guard processed in and then formed lines facing each other on each side of the center aisle. With the color guard in place, the May queen’s court processed down the center aisle of the church, with each girl holding a carnation. A statue of the Blessed Mother was centered in front of the altar, and at her feet a vase in which the court placed their flowers. The court then formed a semicircle at the altar.

After all the flowers were placed, the May queen processed down the center aisle as those in attendance sang “Flowers of the Fairest.” During the verse “Mary we crown thee” Mehall placed the crown of flowers on Mary’s head, then knelt facing the crucifix at the altar, with the color guard kneeling at the altar rail. With the congregation kneeling, the May queen recited the Memorare with everyone in attendance joining in the prayer.

Afterwards, she and her court, along with the color guard, took their seats as Msgr. Heintz delivered a homily about the Blessed Mother. The ceremony ended with the incensing of the Blessed Sacrament, prayer and a closing hymn.

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