A Catholic high school led by the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia in Dumfries, Va., has changed its name from “Pope John Paul the Great” to “Saint John Paul the Great” Catholic High School following the canonization of its patron, according to correspondence with the School.
Sister Mary Jordan Hoover, O.P., the School’s principal, announced this week to students, parents, teachers and staff that Bishop Paul Loverde of the Diocese of Arlington had approved the renaming.
The letter approving the renaming of the school was received on May 13, the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, and the 33rd anniversary of the shooting of Pope St. John Paul II in St. Peter’s square.
The School, which was recognized as one of The Cardinal Newman Society’s 2012 Catholic High School Honor Roll schools, was the first high school in the country to be named “Pope John Paul the Great” and now is possibly the first to be called “Saint John Paul the Great,” according to a Facebook post.
Sr. Mary Jordan told students this week:
Freshmen, sophomores, and juniors, you are our new leaders. We’ll need new traditions, new cheers for sporting events, and maybe even a school song! Once a saint, always a saint! We’re never going to change the name of the school again. We will be Saint John Paul the Great Catholic High School forever. And, I know you will have the creativity to help us make the change in our hearts and in our community, so that future generations will know Saint John Paul the Great!
The renaming is one of the many ways that the School has celebrated the recent canonization.
“The canonization of a patron happens only once, and it is extraordinary that it is happening in our lifetime,” said Sr. Mary Jordan according to a press release. “…Three years after we opened, he was beatified and now in our sixth year, he is canonized. This is very rare, and a great moment in history. It deserves to be celebrated!”
The events taking place at the School reportedly included a “Mass of Thanksgiving, a picnic lunch, a hike to the Shenandoah Valley, an art exhibit, a concert, a command performance of The Jeweler’s Shop, and a Women’s Tea for mothers and daughters.”
These events were designed to highlight various aspects of the late Holy Father including “John Paul the Athlete, John Paul the Artist, John Paul the Witness to Christ, John Paul the Actor, and John Paul the Outdoor Enthusiast.”
A senior at the high school, Matilda Donovan, said that she was able to connect with Pope St. John Paul II during her time at the School. Donovan stated:
…I come from a family where Pope John Paul II is known and loved, but during my four years in high school I’ve connected with him in a more personal way through his teachings, writings, and through the eyes of my teachers, some of whom met him in person… I really admire his ability to speak clearly to the world about what is true and good. He had a charisma that made him beloved by everyone, not only Catholics. He is the saint of our age, for all people.
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