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Mass goes back to its roots

Preparing the AUX gym for worship

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As Carmel’s Girls Gymnastics team prepared to host sectional competition in the Salvi Arena on Thursday, the show still had to go on for the Catholic Schools Week all-school Mass. The solution: go old school and pack its former home-the Auxiliary Gym.

The smaller space and the large number of students, faculty and staff, and honored guests in the form of Carmel’s board members and the superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Chicago Archdiocese, Dr. Jim Rigg, meant some accommodations had to be made and some creative planning had to go into the layout, the altar, and the positioning of the Eucharistic ministers.

“We’re going to try to double up on Eucharistic ministers in each section to try to get the lines to move quicker,” Eucharistic Minister Coordinator Emily Solarz said before the Mass. “We’ll have bigger sections to work with so more students in a smaller space.”

There was also the issue of moving students around in the confined area..

“The bleachers in the Salvi have aisles built into them. In the Auxiliary Gym that’s not the case,” Solarz said. “We’re going to have to create aisles in the bleachers just to make it so that it flows the same way as the Salvi.”

Although the setup presented some challenges, Kambra French from Campus Ministry chose to see the experience as a throwback to Carmel’s roots. Despite the large number of students in this space, French was optimistic and a bit sentimental.

“I’m really excited for it,” she said. “It’s like going back to Carmel’s old tradition of doing Mass.”

As French and Solarz worked out the procedural issues, the technical crew actually had an easier time setting up. Technical Support Specialist Brad Geary said that the acoustics in the smaller gym are better than in the Salvi Arena, but that doesn’t mean that his team didn’t have to put in some time to get everything looking and sounding good.

“We show up the night before for about two hours,” Geary said. “Then we continue the next morning for about an hour and a half.  It total it can take between three and a half to four hours.”

Another group excited about the Auxiliary Gym acoustics was the choir. English teacher Terry Donohoo is in charge of that aspect of mass and didn’t have any major concerns about the changes.

“Compared to the Salvi Arena, the Auxiliary Gym gives off better sound,” Donohoo said. It will be easier for the choir to manage, and the rest of the students will be able to hear everything clearly from their seats.”

French said that the timing of celebrating mass during Catholic Schools Week was a happy accident and remained positive about the plans.

“I’m confident we can make it work,” French said.

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Mass goes back to its roots