Spreading holiday cheer through giving and music

After spending the month of December giving back to the community in celebration of Pylypivka, students got to show off their talents on and off the stage with IHMS's new musical, Rock’n’Roll Angels. Joanne Roberts has the story.

The spirit of Christmas is certainly alive at Immaculate Heart of Mary School in Winnipeg’s North End.

In the Ukrainian Catholic tradition, this time of the holiday season is called Pylypivka or the Philipian Fast, and to celebrate students collected over a thousand items to donate to charity.

The celebrations continue Friday, with a presentation of the nativity in musical form.

Students perform in Rock’n’Roll Angels – The Nativity Musical. (Photo Credit: Joanne Roberts, CityNews)

“It tells the story of the Nativity in a very creative way. The show’s entitled Rock’n’Roll Angels,” explained Rod Picklyk, IHMS School principal.

Picklyk says the show, which is a Manitoba debut, is a chance for students to show off their skills.

“We’ve added actually we call it a busker scene, where they meet Mary and Joseph on their journey and they get to display their talents.”

Mackenzie Marcelino (left), Emily Chernecki (middle) and principal Rod Picklyk (right). (Photo Credit: Joanne Roberts, CityNews)

Many students, like Grade 7 student Emily Chernecki, played roles both on and off the stage.

“I’m in the props crew and I also have a part as a shepherd,” said Chernecki.

She says she enjoyed the time of Pylypivka at the school, especially as students learned and practiced giving, in the true spirit of Christmas.

“It’s nice to donate and help different people so they can also have what they need.”

Although the school is Ukrainian Catholic, it boasts a diverse student body with 220 children, including 71 newcomers from Ukraine.


Student Mackenzie Marcelino is not Ukrainian, but says it’s been exciting to learn Ukrainian Christmas traditions as well as share her own.

“[It] definitely gives me a different mindset of different cultures that I’ve seen,” said Marcelino.

“I celebrate it on Christmas Eve for the presents, until midnight. So family’s going to come over on Sunday.”

Students line the halls and prepare for the debut performance of their musical. (Photo Credit: Joanne Roberts, CityNews)

Marcelino also had roles in the musical, as one of the narrators and props team members. She says there’s a deeper meaning to the story for herself and her peers.

“I think it shows people that younger kids can also find the meaning to Christmas,” said Marcelino.

Chernecki added, “I can hope they can appreciate us telling them about the Nativity and the meaning of Christmas but making it fun.”

Picklyk says after Christmas, the school will continue to celebrate Ukrainian traditions and help pass them on to the next generation of students.

The school added in a statement that each week since November 22, the students have been focusing on different themes in order to learn the “true meaning of Chirstmas.”

Through efforts led by the school’s social justice club, students and staff were able to collect 103 packages of socks, 107 pairs of mittens, 422 toothbrushes/toothpaste, and 572 water bottles and granola bars from various charities in Winnipeg.

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