Faith Life

Liturgy and Prayer Experiences

"Prayer is the great source
from whence the graces of God flow."
a Connelly

Liturgy and Prayer Experiences

The celebration of liturgies provides the essential worship experiences of our Catholic faith for the entire school community. Students and faculty have the opportunity to participate directly in the planning and celebration of all liturgies, which are the center of prayer life at Oak Knoll. A weekly Eucharistic Liturgy is held in Grace Hall Chapel before the start of the school day. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is available to all students in grades 3 through 12 during the school year.

The entire school community participates in the Mass of the Holy Spirit each September to mark the beginning of the school year and to pray for God’s blessings. Families in both the Lower School and Upper School participate in an annual Thanksgiving Family Mass. There is a special Mother-Daughter Mass and breakfast in the Upper School.

School liturgies include the celebration of the Feast of All Saints, Immaculate Conception, Ash Wednesday, and Feast of the Ascension of the Lord. In the spring there is a Community Mass for students in grade 2 and their families. Seniors participate in a special Senior Class Mass. In June, Graduation Mass is celebrated for the sixth graders and their families and a Baccalaureate Mass is celebrated for graduating seniors and their families.
"You must not hide the gifts God has given, but use them in His service."
Cornelia Connelly

Liturgical Ministries

Liturgical ministries allow all members of the school community to participate in significant roles at liturgies and prayer services.

In the Lower School, fifth- and sixth-grade students participate each fall in the Liturgical Ministries program. The program is directed by the Lower School religion coordinator and involves many teachers and other adults from outside the school who serve as mentors. Each student selects a liturgical ministry and participates in training workshops. A commissioning rite takes place at a Lower School liturgy to show the importance of each ministry. The students continue to serve in their chosen ministry throughout the school year.
  • Altar Servers: students learn and review the parts of the Mass and how to serve at Mass.
  • Bread Bakers: students learn how to bake bread for use in school liturgies.
  • Decorations: students create and decorate an altar cloth, decorate the chapel with flowers, and design art work for the printed liturgy programs.
  • Drama: students learn to act out gospel and other bible stories to enhance Prayer Services and Liturgies.
  • Hospitality: students learn to be the greeters who distribute programs and welcome people to their seats.
  • Lectors: students rehearse readings and learn to proclaim the word of God at prayer services and liturgies.
  • Liturgical Dance: students learn to enhance school worship with their interpretive dance.
  • Music: students learn to lead singing and incorporate musical instruments.
  • Sacristans: students learn to prepare the sacred vessels and candles for Mass and the proper methods for clearing the altar after Mass.
Upper School students participate in liturgical ministries at all school prayer services and liturgies. Preparation and training is ongoing throughout the year. Each prayer service and liturgy is coordinated and led by a different grade under the direction of members of the campus ministry team.

  • Leaders of prayer: serving as leaders in prayer services.
  • Music ministry: being a leader of song, cantor, member of the liturgical choir (Bel Canto) and playing a variety of instruments to enhance the liturgical music.
  • Hospitality ministry: welcoming people into the sacred space, distributing programs and directing people to their seats.
  • Processions: participating in both entrance processions and procession of gifts at Mass and symbolic processions at prayer services.
  • Art ministry: designing program covers (design and calligraphy) and other visuals for prayer. Click here for more.
  • Lectors: proclaiming scriptures and other readings.
  • Writing: composing prayers, intercessions, and other reflections for Mass and prayer services.

Of note, the program for Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion is an opportunity for members of the senior class to serve the community of Oak Knoll in a special way. Toward the end of junior year, candidates participate in a preparation program that includes the history of the ministry, the theology of Eucharist and the practical dimensions of this ministry. Students are commissioned at the Upper School liturgy for the Feast of the Ascension of the Lord. 

Prayer Experiences

Prayer services celebrate special times and seasons throughout the school year -Thanksgiving, Advent, Christmas, Lent, Holy Week, Easter and the end of the school year. Special times of communal celebrations are included to commemorate such events as the anniversary of 9/11, SHCJ Founder’s Day, Cornelia Connelly’s birthday and anniversary of her death.

In addition, there are daily opportunities for students to pray both in and outside of class.

Elementary School prayer experiences include:
  • Daily prayers occur in the morning, at lunch and at the end of the day during homeroom.
  • Prayer families (small groups of students K to 6) gather to share prayers and reflection. Administration, faculty and staff are part of each group, which is led by a sixth grade student.
  • Grade 2 celebrates the Los Posadas tradition
  • The feast of St. Francis of Assisi is a second grade celebration with a prayer service and a blessing of the (stuffed) animals
  • The reading of and reflection on the Sunday gospel at weekly assembly.
  • Stations of the Cross
  • Rosary at Recess
  • Scripture reading during religion classes.
  • May crowning and other devotions to Mary.
Middle School and High School prayer experiences include:
  • Student-led prayer begins General Homeroom held twice per cycle in the Upper School.
  • Special prayers are planned in response to the needs of the community and world and to celebrate special Holy Child days and feasts.
  • Rosary
  • Morning Prayer is celebrated in Grace Hall Chapel every Friday during Lent.
  • Stations of the Cross during Lent
  • Student-planned prayers are led by seventh graders at each General Homeroom during Lent.
  • Student-planned Marian Prayers are led by eighth graders at each General Homeroom in May.

Retreat/Reflection Days

Each class in grades 5 through 12 participates in a retreat or class reflection day scheduled during the school year. This day is an opportunity for spiritual growth, faith development and community building for each class. The program takes place at nearby retreat facilities such as the Shrine of St. Joseph in Stirling. The day is led by an outside facilitator and chaperoned by faculty members. Mass is celebrated when the facilitator is a priest, and prayer services are included in all programs.

Of special note, the junior class reflection day is completely planned and led by members of the class supported by a member of the campus ministry team.
Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child is a Catholic independent school coeducational from kindergarten to grade 6 and all girls in grades 7 to 12. Oak Knoll was founded in 1924 and is one of 10 schools in the Holy Child Network of Schools that provides independent Catholic education across the United States.


44 Blackburn Road
Summit, NJ 07901
Phone: (908) 522-8100
Email  the Lower School (coed, K-6)
Email the Upper School (all-girls, 7-12)
© Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child 2019