DAVENPORT — Second-grade students at All Saints Catholic School have created two pieces of furniture to reflect their excitement about receiving first Communion this year. Titled “Sitting with Jesus,” the bench and rocking chair, decorated with the students’ artwork, will be auctioned off at the upcoming All Saints Gala fundraiser on Feb. 26.
“The students loved this and they are so proud of their chair,” said Dawn O’Connor, one of the second-grade teachers. “A student told her family, ‘I can’t go to my doctor’s appointment today because I am painting Jesus.’”
Students were asked to draw something that reflects the sacrament of the Eucharist during their religion classes. They could draw the face of Jesus, his hands, grapes, the chalice, bread or the Holy Spirit. One boy was especially eager to draw a grapevine since I told him, “The grapevine will bring all our pictures together.” Normally, I work with first-graders at All Saints but I took time to help design this project.
The rocking chair dates back to around the 1860s according to my mother, Mary Costello, who donated it for the children to work on. Now 96, she also did the lettering, which reads, “Bread of Life” on the back pillow for the chair. Three separate pillows adorn the rocker created by O’Connor’s second-grade class.
In Katelyn Huettman’s class, students did drawings to be transferred to a wooden bench. “The Holy Spirit was working when I found this bench on Marketplace,” said parent, Susan Stanforth. “The man who made it was asking more than we could spend. But he came down in price two days later. My daughter was so excited about painting the Holy Spirit on the bench that she was late for her dance class after school.”
Many separate pieces of artwork were woven together with the help of the grapevine and now reflect the idea of “Sitting with Jesus.”
“Both the bench and the rocking chair represent places where people stop for a minute. A place to take time out for quiet and for prayer. And how exciting it is to sit with Jesus as he is represented by these kids,” said Stanforth.
Between the two pieces there are four images of Jesus. “One of these was drawn by a girl who is shy. She’s not usually one to try something challenging. But she went for it and it is awesome,” O’Connor said.
The furniture items attracted the attention of others in the school who stopped by at the end of the day to ask if they could “make their mark.” Parent Becky Costello came to help both classes paint and her daughters, as well as other older students, added details. “These were big projects and there were opportunities for many to join in,” she said.
All of the students in both second-grade rooms had a significant part in this process either as the original designers or as those who painted on canvas and on wood.
“What a wonderful way this is for students to show their love for Jesus as they prepare for their first holy Communion,” said Jeanne Von Feldt, principal of All Saints. “I am sure they will always remember this special project.”
(Judith Costello, OCDS, is a freelance writer who lives in Davenport.)