Preschool and kindergarten students at St. Viator Parish School in Las Vegas gathered last week for one of the school’s most cherished traditions: Hearing of the parable of the Good Shepherd from Fr. Bill Haesaert, CSV.

Fr. Bill Haesaert describes the parable of the Good Shepherd to students.

He has reenacted the story for more than 20 years, letting students learn first hand what happens when a shepherd loses one of his flock.

“It’s a privilege for me, for many, many years,” Fr. Bill says, “to come over to the kids and tell them about the good shepherd.”

Fr. Bill served as associate pastor at St. Viator Catholic Community from 1996 to 2013. Now retired, he is a frequent visitor to the school, where students in all grade levels think of them as their good shepherd.

The well-known parable from John 10:27, describes a shepherd who had 100 sheep, but when one gets lost the shepherd leaves the other 99 to search for the one.

Fr. Bill finds the lost sheep.

“Other people have played the part, but once Fr. Bill took command of the role, more than 20 years ago, it has been his role to date,” says Mrs. Susan Crame, one of the preschool teachers. “It is a beautiful and sacred tradition.”

In preparation, the children create little paper lambs and when the shepherd realizes that one of them is missing, the little ones all scatter and hide. With that, Fr. Bill looks around to gather his sheep and they all follow him back home.

Fr. Bill leaves to search for his lost lamb, and the rest of the flock is left to pray. When he returns triumphantly, all the children cheer.

A description of the Last Supper completes the tradition.

The tradition concludes with a celebration of the Last Supper, with Fr. Bill breaking a loaf of Hawaiian bread and holding up a chalice of white grape juice. The children all partake but the story is not over.

When they are all done eating , Fr. Bill requests his two favorite songs for the children to sing: Jesus Died for You and Me, and God’s Not Dead, He is ALIVE.