December 17, 2021

New Oldenburg Academy students, staff receive Miraculous Medal

Altar server Zachary Hoff holds a basket of blessed Miraculous Medals as the school’s president Diane Laake (to his left) and principal Angie Parmer (to his right) place a medal around the neck of each new student and staff member on Dec. 8. (Submitted photo by Theresa Murphy)

Altar server Zachary Hoff holds a basket of blessed Miraculous Medals as the school’s president Diane Laake (to his left) and principal Angie Parmer (to his right) place a medal around the neck of each new student and staff member on Dec. 8. (Submitted photo by Theresa Murphy)

By Natalie Hoefer

On Dec. 8, Catholics around the world worship at Mass in honor of the feast of the Immaculate Conception, acknowledging that Mary was born without the stain of original sin.

But for the last seven years, new students and staff at Oldenburg Academy of the Immaculate Conception in Oldenburg have enjoyed an additional ceremony in conjunction with the holy day: the reception of a Miraculous Medal.

The December feast day serves as the school’s “namesake day,” explained Oldenburg Academy president Diane Laake.

“To celebrate, each year new students and staff of the academy are presented with a Miraculous Medal to remind them that God’s abundant graces and protection are always near, available to assist each person as they grow in the fullness of a child of God.”

‘Franciscans have a special bond with Mary’

Laake said the tradition started “as part of our mission effectiveness plan to be more intentional about integrating our Franciscan Catholic identity and history.”

The medal ceremony takes place after Communion during the academy’s all-school Mass for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. After a priest blesses the medals, Laake and school principal Angie Parmer place one around the neck of each eligible person, saying, “The Lord bless you and keep you safe under the protection of our Mother Mary.”

During the ceremony, students hear an explanation of the significance of the feast for the school, the Sisters of St. Francis, and all Franciscans, and a history of the Miraculous Medal.

The bestowing of the Miraculous Medal in conjunction with the feast of the Immaculate Conception is tied to the apparitions of Mary to St. Catherine Laboure in 1830 in France.

During one of the visions, Mary told the young girl, “I am the Immaculate Conception,” the Marian title for which the academy is named.

At one point, Mary showed St. Catherine an oval frame around her image, with the words “O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you,” and requested that the image be formed into a medal.

According to miraculousmedal.org, Mary explained to the young saint that those who wear the medal, which honors her Immaculate Conception, “will receive great graces, especially if they wear it around the neck.”

The name of the academy—which was founded by the Sisters of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis in Oldenburg—reflects the academy’s Franciscan roots, said Laake.

“Franciscans have a special bond with Mary, so it isn’t unusual to see chapels, schools and other institutions begun by Franciscans taking on a title of Mary,” she explained. “Oldenburg Academy of the Immaculate Conception is just one example.”

Others include the Oldenburg Franciscan sisters’ Chapel of the Immaculate Conception and Marian University in Indianapolis, which the Oldenburg order also established.

‘It helps keep me safe and holy’

Oldenburg Academy (OA) freshman Ninah Lewis said receiving the medal “was special because it was for all freshmen, and it was like a medal welcoming you as a part of the OA family under the protection of Mary.”

Her classmate Jill Witkemper considers the Miraculous Medal “a very special devotion because it relates to our school specifically since we are named Oldenburg Academy of the Immaculate Conception.

“Receiving a medal of this honor helps to remind me how God is directing me in the right path and helps me to grow closer to him and to Mary.”

Not only freshman were given the medal. Will Rees, who started this school year as a junior at the academy said the medal was “special” to him.

“When I put it on, it reminds me to pray and ask Mary to wrap her mantle around me and protect me throughout the day. I also ask her to keep me close to her Son and keep me from getting in the near occasion of sin.

“It’s a special devotion because it helps keep me safe and holy, and gives me faith to believe from some of the stories that I have heard of it and from those who wear it.” †

Local site Links:

Like this story? Then share it!