Answering with Compassion: Easter Chapel Recap

A look into the events of this year’s Easter Chapel


Lily Gover

Student-created ceramic bowls stood on the altar to the right of the podium. Part of the Empty Bowls Project, they would be auctioned off at the 2022 Bishop’s Auction to raise money to solve the issue of food insecurity.

Lily Gover, Copy Editor

The sweet sound of musicians tuning their instruments accompanied the bustling crowd of students trickling into the gym on April 19, 2022. After everyone found their seats, a hush fell over the crowd as Chris Zheng (‘27) and Bodhi Landin (‘28) struck the strings of their violins to produce the dramatic first chord of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik,” accompanied by Eric Feng (‘27) on the piano. 

This marked the start of the Bishop’s Easter Chapel, which focused on compassion, this year’s theme. After the violinists bowed to the crowd with a flourish of their bows, Head of School Mr. Ron Kim walked up to the podium to give the welcome. 

After Jan and Richard Hunter Chair in Theater Ms. Lara Korneychuk led the faculty and students in the hymn, Alleluia, Mrs. Catherine Bagley Beamer began to speak into the microphone, delivering the Opening Prayer. 

On her way back to her seat, she passed History and Social Sciences teacher Ms. Mary Ellen Kohlman on her way to deliver a reading on compassion. Ms. Kohlman eloquently read the poem “If I can stop one heart from breaking” by Emily Dickinson. 

The poem’s second and last lines are the same: “I shall not live in vain.” This segued nicely into the Bishop’s Singers’ and Bel Canto’s performance of the song “I Shall not Live in Vain by Thomas Lavoy, a song based on the poem. Their voices combined in perfect harmonies to share the beautiful message of the song. 

Siblings Adelaide Kessler (‘25) and Will Kessler (‘23) were next to take the podium, together sharing a Scripture reading about the resurrection of Christ to proceed Reverend Nicole Simopoulos-Pigato’s introduction of speakers. She started with an acknowledgement of two important religious holidays happening at the same time as Easter: the Jewish holiday of Passover and the Islamic holiday of Ramadan. Before transitioning into the speakers, she ended with a quote from Father Gregory Boyle, who recently spoke to the school: “The answer to every question is compassion.”

This quote was also written in a display on the altar. Two wooden plaques bore the words, “When you feel compassion, you dethrone yourself from the center of the world and you put another person there.”

The first speaker to take to the podium was Maggie Johnson (‘22). She elicited many laughs throughout the audience as she began with an anecdote about Easter from her childhood, remembering how she used to dread Easter Sunday. The rest of the speech described her new knowledge about the meaning behind Easter, and that she now looks beyond the fancy dresses. Ending with some advice as the end of the year approaches, she recognized that there will be many obstacles, but advised that we should “see them as something to overcome, not something to overcome you.”

The next four speakers gave “Reflections on Compassion.” Ryan O’Donovan (‘27) described the kindness of his grandfather when his mother was diagnosed with cancer, Jameson Vaccaro (‘23) told of a friend that showed him compassion during the lockdown of COVID-19, Angelina Kim (‘25) appreciated a friend who had taken the time to listen to her, and Brooke Fitz-Cluster ‘(23) explained the difference between empathy and sympathy through the story of her grandfather. 

Leaving the audience with a meaningful message, Brooke empathized, “It is okay to not be okay,” telling everyone that they are not alone. Again complementing the previous speech, the Bishop’s Singers took the stage to sing “You Do Not Walk Alone” by Elaine Hagenberg.

After Marcus Buu-Haon (‘24) gave the Prayers of the People, Simmons Arnold (‘23) and Renee Chong (‘22) spoke about food insecurity, with Simmons describing the Empty Bowls Project that recently took place at Bishop’s to make a difference in this issue. A few of the ceramic bowls created by students glimmered under the lights of the gym as they were presented on the altar. 

Following the Offertory Blessing by Reverend Simopoulos-Pigato, the Bishop’s Singers stood up to sing for the last time that day. Maddie Ishayik (‘23), Sarah Kaplan (‘23), and Raphael Delgado (‘24) left the chorus to stand at the podium. Raphael declared that the next song would be “Dayenu,” a popular Passover song. The word “Dayenu” means, “It would have been enough.” Between stanzas, he invited the audience to join in the chorus, the easiest part to learn as it is a repetition of the word “Dayenu.” Although the choir stood singing behind them, only the soloists had microphones. The choir became part of the crowd as everyone joined in the chorus.

After this upbeat ending to Chapel, Reverend Simopoulos-Pigato gave the Blessing and Dismissal as everyone rushed to join the surge of students flowing out the doors and towards milk break.