Normally St. Francis Xavier School students welcome hundreds of grandparents and other loved ones into their classrooms in May to thank them for their love and support. Very little has been “normal” about the end of this school year during the Covid-19 pandemic. The annual St. Francis Xavier Grandparents and Other Loved Ones Day looked quite different for this Catholic elementary and middle school.

With students engaged in distance learning and school buildings closed to the public,

staff members at the school wanted to continue the tradition of honoring grandparents and others who play an important role in children’s lives. Father Joseph Sanderson, parochial vicar at St. Francis Xavier Parish, agreed to celebrate a special Mass in honor of the occasion, and

volunteers set to work printing out pictures of every student in the school to place in the pews

during the Mass. Families were asked to send in names of grandparents and other loved ones,

both living and deceased, to be honored during the Mass. These names were printed and placed next to the pictures of the related student.

The Mass was videotaped and will be made available to all the members of the St. Francis Xavier community to share with their loved ones.

St. Francis Xavier School Principal Eric Becker indicated this is just one of the many ways that faculty and staff have worked to stay connected to their students and families. “When we transitioned to distance learning, our teachers were amazing in their efforts to continue to deliver a high-quality academic experience to our students,” said Becker. “But our school is about more than academics. It’s also very much about community and faith. All of us have been working hard to ensure that our students and families continue to feel connected and cared about. This unique Grandparents and Other Loved Ones Day Mass was one more example of that effort.”