Fr. Bill Haesaert, CSV, 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.
Here’s why: On Friday, he recreated a tradition that dates back more than 30 years at St. Viator Catholic Community, of reading the Parable of the Lost Sheep to the kindergartners and preschoolers.
“It’s a priviledge for me, for many, many years,” Fr. Bill said, “to come over to the kids and tell them about the good shepherd.”
The well-known parable from Matthew 18: 10-14, describes a shepherd who had 100 sheep, but when one gets lost the shepherd leaves the other 99 to search for the one.
“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 Crane, 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.
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.