First Friday Society of Holy Cross an Enduring Tradition at South Portland School

SOUTH PORTLAND---For the past 12 years, students at Holy Cross School in South Portland have been offered the opportunity to participate in the First Friday Mass tradition at the school, a chance to offer special devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Doing so by attending Mass on the first Friday of each month for nine consecutive months also earns students a special distinction: membership in the First Friday Society of Holy Cross.

“The most visible sign of membership is the roll of the society posted in the school,” said Bill Ridge, the Holy Cross teacher who helped found the society in 2011. “Each year, new names and new years are added to the roll outside the main office.”

In total, the roll, which was updated with 2023 names this week, contains the names of 154 Holy Cross students through the years.

“The attendance of Holy Cross students at First Friday Mass exceeded 5,000 Masses in April of this year,” said Ridge.

It’s a tradition and commitment that has astounded Ridge and the faculty at the school.

“I have 45 kids in the middle school, and on the first Friday of March, I had 35 of them sitting in the church with me at 7:30 a.m. on a Friday morning, long before school started,” he said.

This year, one student joined a special club within the society.

“We are pleased to recognize Andrew Borrelli ’23, who has achieved membership for a fifth year in 2023,” said Ridge. “Andrew joins past students Grace Turner ’18, Shea Smith ’19, Luc Lussier ’19, and Blake Bogosian ’20 as the only students to complete the devotion for five years while at Holy Cross.”

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (1647-1690) reported visions of Jesus Christ directing her to promote devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus on nine consecutive First Fridays in reparation for sins and in order to show love to Jesus.

The roll is meant to inspire participation but stands as a silent yet powerful reminder of how the faith-filled education offered at Holy Cross impacts students each year.

“I’m so appreciative of the devotion of this many students,” said Ridge. “For the teachers and the staff people who are here, faith is their life, and here, they get to live it openly. They get to talk about it. And I don’t think you go through some number of years as a student here at Holy Cross and not have that impact you.”