Scribes: The Holy Mackerel

by Erin Roach, Shayna Stochmal, and Kaitlin Wilson, Student Journalists, St. Joan of Arc CHS

featuring the work of young journalists from Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District High Schools

Last week, Ash Wednesday marked the start of Lent. On Ash Wednesday, Catholics mark their foreheads with ashes in the shape of a cross, reminding them of repentance and forgiveness of sin. During this Holy day (along with all other Fridays of Lent), it is not within the faith to ingest meat, and there is no shortage of reminders of this tradition at St. Joan of Arc Catholic High School in Barrie. In an entertaining interview full of bubble noises, the Holy Mackerel cannot speak and therefore writes, telling of his origins and opinions on how students can better their own Lent season. Students are reminded of this fasting time on Shrove Tuesday, thanks to an important mascot: the Holy Mackerel.

The Holy Mackerel may be found wandering the cafeteria at lunch with a special sign and a brightly coloured head on Ash Wednesday and has become a favourite Lenten tradition at the school. Students look forward to its human-like appearance each year, and it has become somewhat of an insider secret.

The Holy Mackerel idea originated at “an American Catholic website, which for the last 5 years has employed the Holy Mackerel, and during Lent, has produced about 5 or 6 episodes of stories regarding the Holy Mackerel.” The Holy Mackerel has become a part of the St. Joan of Arc community, putting in special appearances during the Holy time.

The character reminds students of the fasting to be done at this time, but also “that we should take Lent seriously, that we should repent and make sacrifices in order to prepare well for Easter and the rest of the year.”

Lent, the period leading up to Easter is a time of fasting, as Jesus did approximately 2,000 years ago. Each Friday during the time, believers should refrain from eating meat, which is a driving force of the famed fish’s campaign. The 40-day season is a time of preparation in Catholicism and represents reflection, encouraging believers to make sacrifices as Jesus did when he roamed the desert for the same period of time.

It is important for high school students to partake in Lent because “high school students are distracted by other things in the world and it is good for the Holy Mackerel to come in and shake up their complacency and remind them of what is really important in the world.”

The Holy Mackerel has been spreading the news and practices of Lent since its ‘hatching’, which took place 5 or 6 years ago. It “has got a lot of people giving [it] very strange looks, lot’s of thank you’s, and [realizes] how successful this is, [though] it is only in its infancy.”

Rumour has it, the Holy Mackerel will return to St Joan of Arc this Thursday to remind staff and students alike of their Lenten promises, along with the weekly fasting tat occurs through this time.