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Saturday, May 25, 2024
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Donkey’s tale a hit in Holy Week

George Al-Akiki
George Al-Akiki
George Al-Akiki is a junior multimedia journalist at The Catholic Weekly.
Anthony Salame with students at St Michael’s Catholic Primary School. Photo: Alphonsus Fok
Anthony Salame with students at St Michael’s Catholic Primary School. Photo: Alphonsus Fok

Students at St Michael’s Catholic Primary School delighted over 100 parents and staff with a heartwarming stage performance of children’s author Anthony Salame’s Easter book, The Messiah’s Donkey.

Sydney Catholic Schools, with St Michael’s family educator Ma Becina, organised the event on 27 March.

It was the first ever live rendition of Anthony’s book, and families and children flocked to the school for a fun and interactive way to enter Easter.

The Messiah’s Donkey tells the story of Holy Week through the eyes of Zeke, a down on his luck donkey, whom God decides will carry Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.

The play was the culmination of a series of Lenten festivities at St Michael’s, which included a book reading and signing event by Anthony for students of all grades on Holy Monday.

Year 5 students were selected to play the main roles in the story: the donkey, shepherd, Jesus and narrator, amongst others.

The entire school was involved at various other points of the play as the Passion played out.

“Alleluia, he is risen for me!” all 370 students sang joyously as Jesus rose at the end of the performance.

Anthony, who was in the crowd watching along, was deeply moved to see the pages of his book come to life.

“The reason I’ve created these books is for children to have a relationship with Jesus Christ, and today I see you all certainly have that,” he told the students.

St Michael’s family educator Ma Becina said the children’s connection to the story was why they wanted to reproduce it live.

“This school is big on performances and engaging students to learn visually. Seeing the enthusiasm the kids feel with this story and taking this book to the next level makes my role so enjoyable,” she said.

“Our role as family educators is meant to engage with families and promote the faith, which I get to do each day.

“I’m just an instrument, but it’s the kids and parents that make great events like this happen.

Students pray at St Michael’s Catholic Primary School. Photo: Alphonsus Fok
Students pray at St Michael’s Catholic Primary School. Photo: Alphonsus Fok

“Even beyond Lent, I’m sure the kids will continue to do good things in charity and for their community.”

Zoe, who played Zeke the donkey, was appreciative of the message of hope the book brings and expressed her gratitude for the holy season.

“Thank you, Jesus, for dying on the cross for us so we would have eternal life,” she said.

The play was a fitting part of Holy Week for its narrator and Year 5 student Harrison.

“It’s a time of personal reflection that allows people to prepare their hearts and minds,” he said.

“It’s a time to help people,” added Xavier, who played the pig.

Parents were also thrilled. Mark, whose daughter was chosen to play Jesus, said he was excited to see a side of Easter previously unconsidered.

“I think we concentrate so much on the death and resurrection of Christ, but this story showed something different,” he said.

“The donkey was a spectator looking in from the outside, which made it alive for the children,” said parent Tim Long.

“Instead of just reading it, they could also see it, which I think can make all the difference.

One mother, Heidi Mechreki, found the performance moving.

“Often we just celebrate mass for Easter or Christmas, but to have an extension of the Liturgy in this way where all the children are involved has a great impact on them,” she said.

“The children can relate to the donkey. Sometimes they might feel lonely and stuck somewhere, but they know that when they pray, God can help them through that.”

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