A hush falls over St. Mary School in Gilroy each day at 11 a.m. when the prayer bell rings.
Students, teachers, staff members and visitors stand still, make the sign of the cross, and pray. For one moment, activity is halted and everyone throughout the school devotes this time to silent prayer. Without interruption, this minute of silence has been a St. Mary tradition for the past 19 years.
This observance began at the start of the first Persian Gulf War in the spring of 1993. Sister Bobbi Green, St. Mary School kindergarten teacher who was teaching at St. Mary in 1993, recalls that Diocesan schools started a day of prayer in the spring of 1993 shortly after the Persian Gulf War began. She said students throughout schoolyards in the diocese regularly held hands to pray for our servicemen and women and to pray for peace. The school decided to take it a step further and ring the bell daily, Green said.
In fall of 1993, St. Mary School didn’t begin the school year with the prayer bell. Many students asked then-principal Christa Hanson what happened to the prayer bell. Hanson immediately reinstated it and it has been ringing each school day at 11 a.m. ever since.
The St. Mary student who holds the student council position of commissioner of religious affairs rings the prayer bell daily as part of his or her duties.
St. Mary School respectfully invites visitors to pause with the rest of the school for this traditional minute of silence each school day.