||Eighth graders from St. John the Baptist School in Jefferson take part in a Seder meal with their second grade "buddies". The students each took the role of a different family member. (Contributed photo)
JEFFERSON -- Classes at St. John the Baptist Catholic School in Jefferson often participate in "buddy" activities with one another.
One such example happened on March 18, a week before Holy Thursday.
That day commemorates the Last Supper that Jesus shared with his disciples before his crucifixion the next day. And since Jesus and his followers were Jewish, this last meal they shared was the Passover Seder.
Eighth grade teacher Margie Schels and second grade teacher Laura Leary worked together to plan activities so that their students would gain a better understanding of the Last Supper and the Jewish tradition of Passover.
In preparation for their receiving Holy Communion for the first time on April 3 or 10, the second graders had already learned that Jesus began what would be the heart of the Catholic faith in the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper.
Learning about the Seder service
On March 18, the school library had been transformed into a collection of tables at which the younger and older students would play the role of family members, which included fathers, mothers, and younger and older children.
Each table had the traditional Seder plate with food items that symbolized the significant components of the Jewish Passover and story of the Israelites' flight from bondage to freedom.
The mothers at each table began the tradition of prayer, followed by a series of blessings and prayers recited by the fathers.
The rituals included the blessing and sharing of grape juice (wine) and matzos (unleavened bread).
The young children at each table recited the questions about Passover, which the fathers answered, telling the story of their ancestors.
The Seder tradition concluded with a final blessing and everyone rejoicing with "amen, amen, amen" and the handshake of peace, or "Shalom".
A follow-up discussion was held so that students could offer comments and ask questions about the Seder service.
Several second and eighth graders shared what they learned about both the Passover Seder and the Last Supper, commenting that they recognized many connections between them and the rituals of the Catholic Mass.