Her first name is Barbara, but for two weeks she was also known as Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Anne, Joachim, Stephen, Patrick, Blaise and Cecilia.
Some creative flair marked the summer religious-education session at St. Mary Our Mother Parish in Horseheads, held July 18-29. Barbara Matterazzo, the parish’s faith-formation administrator, dressed up as different saints — one for each day of the 10-day program — much to the delight of the 54 students in grades kindergarten through 8.
Matterazzo greeted students in period costume while leaving clues as to each saint’s identity on a message board. For example, she would indicate which Gospel certain saints wrote. She also brandished a small harp for St. Cecilia, the patron saint of children’s music. In a more graphic display — for Stephen, the first martyr — she depicted having blood on her face and hands, as well as rocks being thrown at her.
Considerable classroom discussion would follow on the saint of the day, and Matterazzo would reappear at the end in her saint outfit. She noted, with a laugh, that her get-ups for male saints were so convincing that some people had no idea it was her.
On the program’s final day, all students were invited to dress up as their own patron saints. They took part in a “parade of saints” at St. Mary Our Mother Church, which culminated with a laying of flowers at the statue of Mary and a crowning of Mary, the queen of all saints.
The feast day of two saints, St. Anne and St. Joachim on July 26, occurred during this two-week stretch. They are best known as the mother and father of Mary, yet one student referred to Anne and Joachim as the grandparents of Jesus — an answer that delighted Matterazzo, who is a grandmother herself.
“You don’t really think of Jesus having a grandmother and a grandfather. But I’m sure St. Anne had a very active role in helping raise Jesus,” she said.
This was the second summer that Matterazzo gave new life to the saints.
“I really feel that through that experience, the children definitely learned a few things about other saints that they would not have learned otherwise,” she said.