Catholic Free Press

Catholic Free Press Digital Edition

  • Feb
  • 6

Prayer in school

Posted By February 6, 2014 | 12:57 pm | Lead Story #1

By Tanya Connor

“For the seventh- and eighth-grade girls basketball team.”
“For all the cats and dogs at the ASPCA to get helped.”
“For everyone in life.”
These were among intentions students at Our Lady of the Angels Elementary School in Worcester shared during a Catholic Schools Week prayer service.
Jan. 27 students, teachers, administrators and staff gathered in Our Lady of the Angels’ school hall, where each was invited to offer a prayer intention and all were asked to pray for the intentions all week.
On Jan. 24 at St. Anne Elementary School in Webster, students, teachers, administrators and staff were each given a prayer pal to pray for during Catholic Schools Week.
Jan. 31 students got together with their prayer pals for a scavenger hunt, to see how many things they could find in the school that show it’s Catholic.
These were creative ways schools helped members of their communities pray during Catholic Schools Week.
As Our Lady of the Angels’ principal Doreen Albert gathered her charges in the school hall at the beginning of the week, she urged them to close their eyes and think of why they were there – for a very special reason.
She played a You Tube video with a song which said, in part, “I love you, Jesus. My life was saved by you. … I’ll grow up loving you.”
Pictures portrayed children of different races in different places praying. Mixed in with them was one of a cat standing on its hind feet clasping its front paws together, which elicited laughter from students.
After the video, Mrs. Albert opened with a prayer, thanking God for his presence, asking that he help them be grateful and more like Jesus.
“I’m living proof of the power of prayer,” the principal said, noting that the school community prayed for her when she was sick. (She was out of school from September to January due to back surgery.)
“What we have here that we can celebrate today is our faith,” she said. “I promise you, God is going to hear your prayers.” She said they might not get the answer they wanted, but she wasn’t going to get into that. They were going to focus on faith, she said, and spoke of God’s power.
She asked the students to pray each night, using the prayer on the card they’d received, praying for the intentions of others at the school.
Mrs. Albert offered her own intention – for God’s blessing on Our Lady of the Angels – then had students come up to the microphone and offer theirs. She gave respect to each alike.
One student asked for a good rest-of-the-year, without any injuries.
“For the kids that don’t have parents,” said another.
“That the future will bring us great joy,” said yet another.
Several mentioned one or more than one member of their families or the school family. A few wanted prayers for a pet.
Other requests included the Army, world peace, homeless people, the poor, everyone who is sick and dying and persecuted Christians around the world.
Mrs. Albert then gave the adults a chance to share their intentions from where they were. One had several requests, including the school family, the unborn and protection, not just of the military but police and firefighters too.
Mrs. Albert asked the students to kneel with her, and told the adults they didn’t have to. She asked that students also kneel and pray each night, whether or not they are in the habit of doing so.
She said she felt God there and led them in the prayer on the card: “Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. May God guard me through the night. And wake me with the morning light. Amen.”
“Asking God …” she said soon afterwards, then changed her focus momentarily: “Asking the computer to please cooperate.”
“You’re funny, Mrs. Albert,” called out an audience member.
Students laughed as a car appeared on the screen and Mrs. Albert remarked, “That is not the ‘Our Father.’” But soon the prayer was being said, accompanied by drawings of children praying.
The Friday before Catholic Schools Week, each class at St. Anne’s in Webster received a poster with the name and photo of the prayer pal assigned to each student in the class, said Marilyn Berthiaume, a teacher, student council adviser and director of the after-school program.
She said she and Linda Oakley, the teacher who brought up the idea, drew names out of bags to match students in pre-kindergarten through grade 4 with students in grades 5-8.
Adults were assigned to be prayer pals for each other, including the principal, Sister Constance Bayeur, a Sister of St. Anne, and the pastor, Father Adam Reid.
Mrs. Berthiaume said she prepared a prayer service to be used over the intercom each morning, which included a prayer for the prayer pals and one for the intentions members of the school community placed in a basket in the main hall.
Everyone was also to pray on their own all week.
On Friday everyone gathered in the school’s main hallway, where they prayed and sang “Open my eyes, Lord,” which they had sung all week.
“I got great feedback by everyone involved,” Mrs. Berthiaume said.