Nolan High School rooted in tradition of devotion to Mary, Mother of All Nations

Story and Photos by Jerry Circelli

Correspondent

May 6, 2013

From left are Nolan Catholic High School Principal Cathy Buckingham, Meghan McCoy, and Kai Nemeth, creator and organizer of Mary, Mother of All Nations. A 2004 graduate of Nolan Catholic High School, McCoy was the honored alumna called on to serve as the Blessed Mother at the Mary, Mother of All Nations program.

From left are Nolan Catholic High School Principal Cathy Buckingham, Meghan McCoy, and Kai Nemeth, creator and organizer of Mary, Mother of All Nations. A 2004 graduate of Nolan Catholic High School, McCoy was the honored alumna called on to serve as the Blessed Mother at the Mary, Mother of All Nations program.

When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, Woman, behold, your son. Then he said to the disciple, Behold, your mother. And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

— John 19:26-27

These words, spoken by Jesus from the cross, speak directly to each of us inviting our acceptance of Mary as our Blessed Mother. Around the world, Christians have taken Jesus’ words to heart as they express their own spiritual love and devotion to Mary.

Every year, freshmen at Nolan Catholic High School in Fort Worth share their own global experiences representing the diversity of their heritages with a powerful prayer service honoring the Blessed Virgin as “Mary, Mother of All Nations.”

The annual program has become a special highlight activity of the freshman class for more than 10 years. It showcases students’ love for Mary through their God-given talents of song, dance, poetry, public speaking, and knowledge of world geography and history.

This year’s event involved the Hail Mary recited by one student in his native Nigerian language, a Japanese folksong, a student of Cherokee heritage reading a Native American prayer, a sacred Hawaiian hula dedicated to Mary, psalm recitations in Tagalog-Filipino, an elaborate Asian dance, ballet, an ancient Gaelic prayer, and a Polish hymn. Attended by nearly 250 freshmen, the March 21 event also drew about 100 other students, parents, administrators, faculty, and special guests.

A meaningful entrance procession is central to the Mary, Mother of All Nations program each year. Students process into Nolan’s arena representing the populated continents of the world. They carry symbols from these regions, ranging from eagle feathers and cowboy hats for North America to a colorful dragon representing power and blessings from Asia.

And no Mary, Mother of All Nations event at Nolan would be complete without someone portraying the Blessed Mother herself. Each year, a Nolan alumna is honored with this role. This year, that honor went to Meghan McCoy, a 2004 graduate of Nolan who currently teaches at St. Andrew Catholic School in Fort Worth.

She was escorted to a stage in the arena as festivities and tributes centered on her presence and representation of Mary.

McCoy, in fact, was among some the first freshmen to participate in the original celebration of Mary, Mother of All Nations 13 years ago. While the event was a memorable one for her as a student at the time, she said she never expected to return to play the role of Mary.

“It was such an honor to be chosen,” McCoy said, “especially considering all of the alumnae of Nolan Catholic.” When McCoy got the call from her former teacher and event organizer Kai Nemeth, asking her if she would be interested in the role of Mary this year, she accepted. Immediately after the conversation, she turned to prayer.

Talented student performers honor Mary through a colorful Asian fan dance.

Talented student performers honor Mary through a colorful Asian fan dance.

“I prayed for guidance, support, and strength, so I would represent Mary the best way that I possibly could,” McCoy said.

Asking for God’s help as she immersed herself in devotion to Mary is also something she learned from Nemeth, a popular social studies teacher who has taught for 44 years, including 30 years at Nolan.

Mary, Mother of All Nations was a perfect fit for Nolan, said Nemeth, because of the school’s strong Marianist roots.

“Our school’s charism centers on Mary as the first disciple of Christ,” Nemeth explained, adding that a special synergy occurs with freshmen as they honor the Blessed Mother each year. “It’s the enthusiasm of the freshmen and the other students, and the appreciation that comes from the entire school community that is so exciting and motivates me do this every year,” said Nemeth.

“I personally have great devotion to Our Lady, and this has become a labor of love.”

Nemeth said the Mary, Mother of All Nations event has continued to grow in importance over the years not only because of its popularity with students, but because of the support of administrators as well. One of those, he said, is Nolan’s president, Father Richard Villa, SM.

“I am absolutely mesmerized each time I attend Mary, Mother of All Nations,” said Fr. Villa, a Society of Mary priest. “It certainly reflects the diversity of our student body, the expansion of our Church throughout the world, and the convergence of cultures that Mary brings.

“It helps students understand the role of Mary in the world as a disciple of Christ and a person who listened to the word of God in her life. It gives students a firsthand knowledge of how diverse our Church is,” Fr. Villa said.

Nolan Principal Cathy Buckingham sees it the same way.

In her address to students, Buckingham said, “Being a Marianist school, as you know, we look to Mary as our model in everything that we do. She’s a perfect example of patience and goodness. And it is in this celebration that we recognize her as the mother of all the nations of our world.

“We the people of earth are her children,” Buckingham continued. “I encourage you to remind yourself that you are a child of Mary and everyone you encounter is as well. This makes each of us a brother and sister in Christ.

“Let us always remember to treat each other in this manner, as brothers and sisters in Christ, and as children of Mary.”

Catherine Gorecki is one of the many students at Nolan who will remember how the Mary, Mother of All Nations event strengthened her devotion to Mary. Now a senior, Gorecki has participated in the event throughout her four years at Nolan. Fluent in Polish, with strong family roots to Poland, Gorecki sung “Serdeczna Matko (Beloved Mother),” a popular Polish hymn.

Nolan-Mary-BUTTON.jpgThese words, spoken by Jesus from the cross, speak directly to each of us inviting our acceptance of Mary as our Blessed Mother. Around the world, Christians have taken Jesus’ words to heart as they express their own spiritual love and devotion to Mary.

Published (until 5/6/2063)
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