Creating parish’s paschal candle helps eighth graders feel ‘closer to God’

By Brenda Sexton | OSV News

FIFE, Wash. (OSV News) — When the new paschal candle at St. Martin of Tours Church is lit during the Easter Vigil April 8, two eighth graders from Holy Rosary Bilingual Academy will be beaming.

Eight-graders Itzel and Azucena, students at Holy Rosary Bilingual Academy in Fife, Wash., hold the paschal candle they created for St. Martin of Tours Church to be lit at the Easter Vigil April 8, 2023. (OSV News photo/Nina Tatum)

The girls, Azucena and Itzel, were chosen to pour and decorate the 3-foot-tall Easter candle because of their dedicated service as junior sacristans at morning Mass, said Terri Nido, St. Martin of Tours pastoral assistant for children and youth ministry, who leads the project.

“I am happy that I did something for the church,” Azucena said. “To be closer to God,” Itzel added.

Nido said she and Father Michael Radermacher, St. Martin’s pastor, began the project of casting a new paschal candle for the parish several years ago.

“Each year … we have been melting down the old worn church candles, to be made new again, as one of our preparations for the Triduum,” Nido told Northwest Catholic, the news outlet of the Archdiocese of Seattle.

The Easter Triduum — from the evening of Holy Thursday to the evening of Easter Sunday — is the summit of the church’s liturgical year. According to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the paschal candle “is the symbol of the light of Christ, rising in glory, scattering the darkness of our hearts and minds.”

The candle-making project at St. Martin began with the youth group, but when Holy Rosary Bilingual Academy came to the Fife parish from Tacoma in the fall of 2020, the parish invited eighth graders to help as a way to connect the school and parish, Nido said.

The old candles are melted in a pot similar to a double boiler, then the wax is poured into a PVC pipe mold with a wick running down the center. An adult helps the students pour the hot wax into the mold — letting it cool and harden and then pouring again until it fills completely. After two to three days, the cooled wax — “fingers crossed,” Nido said — slides free from the mold and is decorated.

Eight-graders Itzel and Azucena, who are students at Holy Rosary Bilingual Academy in Fife, Wash., pour melted wax from old candles into a mold for a new paschal candle for St. Martin of Tours Church to be lit at the Easter Vigil April 8, 2023. (OSV News photo/Nina Tatum)

The girls said they decided to decorate the candle with gold decals to be different from other years.

“They were very proud of themselves,” Nido said.

As the girls applied the decals, they learned that the alpha and the omega represent God as the beginning and the end. They affixed the year 2023 to the candle because it will stay in the church until next Easter. At the April 8 Easter Vigil Mass, five nails in the shape of a cross will be placed into the candle to represent the wounds of Christ.

Students from the bilingual academy serve the parish in other ways. Before Lent, they burn the previous year’s blessed palms to be used for the ashes blessed and distributed on Ash Wednesday. During Advent, students construct the manger for the outdoor creche. They help decorate the sanctuary for holy days and throughout the year ring the church bells at noon for the Angelus prayer.

Author: OSV News

OSV News is a national and international wire service reporting on Catholic issues and issues that affect Catholics.

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