Igniting and Shining with Marymount’s Light Ceremony
God is our Light: Marymount Convent School’s (MCS) ideals are encapsulated both in this little motto and our very unique tradition called the Light Ceremony which was held at the beginning of the school year.
MCS school supervisor, Sister Delphine Kang, RGS, who inaugurated the ceremony 15 years ago, said: “When I returned to work in school after some years in social service, the motto was on the school walls, its crest, and on students’ badges. Yet few actually paid attention to it.”
Thus she envisioned a ceremony that focused on God, who is Light to all, and how school staff and students can pass this Light of God to all they encounter. Despite the Ceremony being moved from the school hall, where it was usually held, onto Zoom during the pandemic, we nevertheless saw the participation of the whole school.
Igniting the light
One day before the ceremony, each girl received a candle cut-out, symbolising the light God has given them e.g. their talents, gifts, knowledge, wisdom and grace. On it, they were asked to write down a talent or gift they would like to share with others. This made them conscious of the ‘Light’ they possessed and were called to pass on.
The next day at the Ceremony, as the hymn "Pass It On" was played, the girls came forward to paste the candles onto a big ‘class candle,’ in a touching and beautiful gesture of committing themselves to the school motto, ‘God is Our Light’.
“Visually pasting their individual candles onto the big class candle is a powerful way for the girls to see how they too are able to give something of themselves, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant it may be to others,” said Mrs Evelyn Chia, a Primary 3 teacher who has two daughters in the school.
Another teacher, Ms Amanda Yeo, shared similar sentiments. “The pasting of the candles allows the girls to feel part of the community even though they took part in the Ceremony via Zoom” especially as each class candle was then proudly put up on the class notice board.
Shining the light
The highlight of the Ceremony is the passing of the flame from Sr Delphine as school supervisor to the school leaders, and then to the teachers, and finally to the student representatives, all happening while the same hymn Pass It On is played. It is always a meaningful moment when all members of the school pledge to commit themselves to lead and help one another to grow in knowledge, wisdom and grace, guided by God’s unconditional love.
Explained Vice-Principal Mdm Anna Tan, “The Light Ceremony is a very significant event in the life of a new student in Marymount Convent where she is welcomed into our school family in Primary 1. For the next five years here, she is reminded of the love she receives from God through this family, and how she can spread this love to others. This is a beautiful tradition which we want all our students to remember fondly.”
Mdm Elaine Han, who just joined the school this year as a senior teacher, said, “Being new to the school, this was my first time taking part in the Light Ceremony. I was touched when the hymns were being played. I felt that it was a meaningful experience for the girls and staff as all of them, Catholics and non-Catholics alike, especially at the start of the year.”
The Light Ceremony gives us an identity of our mission as a Good Shepherd school, anchoring the school year and giving a meaningful start for the whole school population. It is something we truly look forward to every year. It reminds us of our personal commitment as teachers, to be the light and to share God’s Light with others through our gifts, our strengths and values, especially with our students and the whole school community.
This article was first published on Catholic News on 26 January 2022.