Introduction

Primary Schools in K&L are invited to be part the preparation for our 2013 Diocesan Congress (8/9th March) which includes a special art project.

Pupils are invited to decorate a FISH symbol.  Examples of this artwork from all our schools will form part a special Installation in the Cathedral of the Assumption Carlow which will be in place for the Diocesan Congress and will remain in the Cathedral throughout the Lenten and Easter Seasons.

The installation will feature a model of a fishing boat similar to the kind used on the Sea of Galilee during Jesus’ time and the fish symbols will be attached to the boat’s net. This Installation will be in place for the Diocesan Congress and will remain in the Cathedral throughout the Lenten and Easter Seasons.

See below for more details, including the invitiation to contribute Prayer Petitions (on fish-shaped cards) which will be gathered together with parish petitions and placed in the boat in Carlow Cathedral during the Congress.

See below for more details.

Background

Last year we gathered as a diocese to prepare for the International Eucharistic Congress. The gathering was a great success and so we have decided to do it again this year.

One of the highlights of last year’s Congress was the School’s Altar Cloth. We invited all 173 Catholic Primary Schools in the diocese to decorate a square of material that formed part of an Altar Cloth used in the final Mass of the Congress. The finished cloth was admired by all who came to the Congress and has since been used in parish and school celebrations and was part of the International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin in June. It will be used again at the Closing Mass of this year’s Congress.

Watch video – K&L Primary Schools Altar Cloth

2013 Congress – Theme

This year our Congress takes place during the Year of Faith, announced by Pope Benedict XVI, and our theme is ‘Lord, Increase Our Faith.’  A copy of the Brochure for the Diocesan Congress has been circulated to all schools with a poster for your display board.

LOGO

The logo for our congress is adapted from the logo for the Year of Faith. The boat has been filled with saints and with children. Jesus stands at the centre. This reminds us that our faith has a past, present and a future, it lives in each one of us.

  • We have included a list of all the saints in the boat with in this pack.
  • Encourage class groups to find out about some of the saints in the boat.

What we want you to do

Included with this pack is an outline of a Fish (Ichthus) on Card. Use the information in the pack to talk to the children about the significance of fish in the life of Jesus, in the bible and in the lives of Christians. Photocopy and cut out the fish and ask the children to decorate the fish individually or in groups. The best fish can be chosen to represent the school at the Diocesan Congress.

  • Decorate it on both sides using material of your choice
  • Crayons, paint, light fabric, tin foil, markers, tissue paper etc
  • Include the name of your school on the tail of the fish
  • Your Parish Representative will collect the fish on or before Friday, February 22

The fish will be attached to a net in the Cathedral of the Assumption Carlow as part of an Installation which will include a model of a boat similar to the kind used on the Sea of Galilee during Jesus’ time. This Installation will be in place for the Diocesan Congress and will remain in the Cathedral throughout the Lenten and Easter Seasons.

Prayer Petitions

As part of the preparation for the Diocesan Congress parishes are being asked to create a space in the local church where people can write their prayer petitions on fish-shaped cards and place them in a basket or other suitable container.

These baskets will then be taken to Carlow and will be placed in the boat as part of the Opening Prayer of the Diocesan Congress. Included with this pack you will find a template for fish shaped prayer petitions.

You might consider creating a similar Sacred Space in your school entrance area or in individual classroom and encourage the children to write their own prayers on the fish. The prayer petitions of the children can be added to those of the parish and brought to the Cathedral.

Jesus and Fish

Our boat also has a net and this reminds us of all the times that Jesus talked about fish, went fishing with his friends and even told them where to find the best catch. Remember that his first four disciples were fishermen! You can read about this in: Mark 1:16-20. St Luke tells the same story but in his version Jesus gets into Simon’s boat and taught the people on the lake shore. He then told Simon to put his nets back into the water and they caught so many fish that they needed help to bring them to shore. You can read about this in Luke 5:1-11

There are other stories about Jesus and fish:

  • The feeding of the five thousand: Luke9:10-17 Matthew 15:32-39 Mark 8:1-10 John 6:1-15
  • Jesus appears to his disciples: John 21:1-14

Fish symbol in the lives of Early Christians

The fish is an ancient and very important Christian symbol . We have already seen how fish are mentioned in many of the Gospel stories. Fish is not only part of Gospel stories, but,we are told that it was also used as a symbol by early Christians to let others know that they were followers of Jesus.

During the first three hundred years of Christianity there was persecution of those who wanted to follow Christ. In many places it was dangerous to be known as a Christian. It is said that when two people met and one wanted to see if the other was a Christian they would draw the beginning of a fish symbol on the ground. If the other person completed the drawing each would know that they were followers of Jesus. This was a simple and safe way of identifying other Christians. It was also easy to erase if the other showed no sign of recognition.

ICHTHUS

In later years Christians began using the Greek word ICHTHUS or ICHTHYS.  The use of the fish symbol by Christians may or may not be true. But it is certain that sometime around the 16th century Christians began using the Greek word ichthys for ‘fish’. Ichthys is made up of five letters from the Greek alphabet: I-ch-th-y-s. We can use these five letters to make an Acrostic in Greek, Iesous Christos Theou Yios Soter. This translates into English as ‘Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Saviour.’

= IXQUS = ICHTHYS = Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Saviour

I Iota the first letter in the Greek Word Iesous Jesus

X Chi the first letter in the Greek Word Christos Christ

Q Theta the first letter in the Greek Word Theos of God

U Upsilon the first letter in the Greek Word Yiso Son

S Sigma the first letter in the Greek Word Soter Saviour

Some Christians continue to use the fish symbol today. You will see it on cars and books.