Holy Trinity High School Logo
June 29, 2015

For the 2013-14 school year, principal Lucy Moore and I sat down to discuss how we could get our students at Fort McMurray's Holy Trinity High School to experience the Mass together.

Our intentions were good but logistics kept getting in the way of our plans. Getting to and from the church, busing, scheduling and other things worked against us.

Then it dawned on us that our identity as a Catholic community is what made us a church. If getting to and from a building was going to be our issue, we would use our own building as a church.

We decided to hold weekly Masses at our school right in the heart of the building – the main hallway. This is a central hub of the school. It is used as our cafeteria, events take place there, it is a meeting place and our school store is there.

A few dedicated students worked hard to facilitate this Mass every week. It started small. Up to four classes each week could sign up to attend.

Over time the excitement grew. Our school bought a sound system so everyone could hear and a large television set to display readings and responses.

Most importantly, over the past two years our weekly Mass has become part of our school's identity as a Catholic institution.

Our students know the Mass, participate in the responses and have said they feel it is something special.

A key element to our Mass has been Father José Chirappanath who came to our school every Wednesday to celebrate Mass.

He says he saw "Big potential, but how to go forward?" and believed that the physical presence of a priest and Jesus needed to be in our schools. He believed the solution was weekly Masses and frequent visits.

Father Jose said, "I knew it would be hard at the start but it would work because we are bringing Jesus and he'll make it work."

This has been his attitude throughout his time with us. During our graduation Mass this year, our students welcomed and bid goodbye to Father Jose with a standing ovation.

(Christopher Poulsen is chaplain at Holy Trinity Catholic High School.)

eduling and other things worked against us.