Back to School 2021

HOW CAN WE PREPARE TO WELCOME A NEW SCHOOL YEAR IN OUR HOME?

As children prepare to return to in-person or virtual learning environments, we encourage families to take the opportunity to pray with their children and their educators in a meaningful way.

The beginning of the new school year brings with it a large list of “to do’s” and a return to routine. Before the hectic structure of bells and homework begins, schedule a time together as a family to celebrate a brief Liturgy of the Word and to hear how you can be praying for your children.

PREPARING AS A FAMILY

1. GATHER TOGETHER

Gather together in a sacred place in the home and avoid any distractions that might hinder your prayer. Take time to source a Bible, a candle and a crucifix and place them on a prayer table in the center of the room to add to your prayer space.

2. TIME TO LISTEN

Once gathered, take time to listen to your children about their “fears, cheers and unclears”. Hear what they are excited for in the new academic year, encourage them to share candidly what might be giving them hesitancy about a return to the classroom, and affirm the uncertainties that they may still be working through.

3. INTENTIONS FOR PRAYERS

Before the Liturgy of the Word begins, go around the room and ask your children how you can be praying for them in this year. Have each child name one way in which they could use your prayers (e.g. I am going to be working really hard on my reading and writing this year.)

4. LITURGY OF THE WORD

Using the resource that has been provided by the Diocese of Hamilton, celebrate a brief Liturgy of the Word together with your family members.

5. CELEBRATE THE END OF SUMMER

When the prayer concludes, take some time to celebrate together the end of summer! Make a meal together, or have a family movie night.

As the days draw closer to the beginning of the school year, take time to plan and prepare for the shift into routine together.

Try to encourage daily prayer as a part of this routine. Returning to the petitions offered for your children above, take time to pray again for these intentions and make sure your children know that you are walking alongside them into this new year. Regular habits of prayer build regular routines of prayer in the home!

LITURGY OF THE WORD FOR BACK TO SCHOOL

OPENING PRAYER

A parent / leader gathers the family or group of individuals and opens with the following prayer:

"Let the Sign of the Cross we make declare our love for you:"

A parent / leader makes the motion of the Sign of the Cross and encourages others to do the same:

"Our hand to our head to show our love for you with all our mind.
Our hand to our chest to show our love for you with all our heart.
Our hand from side to side to show our love for you with our whole soul and strength.
Let us pray:
Jesus, as we start a new school year, we think about our baptism.
Make us temples of the Holy Spirit filled with the seven gifts:
May our eyes see all things with the gift of wisdom.
May our minds have the gift of understanding.
May our hearts have the gift of fortitude.
May our mouths speak or be silent with the gift of knowledge.
May our feet follow your will with the gift of counsel.
May our knees bend in reverence with the gift of fear of the Lord.
May our folded hands bring consolation in prayer with the gift of piety.
Amen."



SCRIPTURE

A parent / leader reads the following scripture or may designate it to another person who is able to proclaim it.

Revelation 21:1-4 Behold, the home of God is among his people.

"Then I, John, saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them as their God; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.” And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.”"

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

Parents / leaders may wish to use these or other appropriate questions to discuss with the children.

  • Where do you see God living in our home/classroom?
  • How can we invite God into our new school year?
  • How can we be praying for one another as we begin a new school year?

INTERCESSIONS

A parent / leader begins with the following and informs the children that the response is: "Lord, hear our prayer."

Many in our community and world hunger for food, shelter, comfort in sorrow, healing, and reconciliation. We now turn to God and pray that their deepest desires be satisfied. We pray to the Lord. Lord, hear our prayer.

That the Church and her leaders will continue to uphold the sanctity of the human family, we pray to the Lord. Lord, hear our prayer.

That farmers and all who work to provide food will be blessed as they provide resources that will feed the hungry, we pray to the Lord. Lord, hear our prayer.

That young people who begin or return to school be blessed and enriched in mind, body and spirit, we pray to the Lord. Lord, hear our prayer.

That teachers and support staff see the power of God acting through them, we pray to the Lord. Lord, hear our prayer.

That the sick will be comforted, particularly those who suffer from COVID-19, we pray to the Lord. Lord, hear our prayer.

That the dead, especially those who have died from COVID-19 will know the eternal love of God in heaven, we pray to the Lord. Lord, hear our prayer.

A parent / leader concludes the intercessions with the following words:

"Lord God, you are the giver of every good gift. Listen to the prayer of your faithful people. We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Amen."

THE OUR FATHER

A parent / leader invites the children / group to pray:

"Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name …"

PRAYER AT THE BEGINNING OF A SCHOOL YEAR / SEMESTER / TERM

A parent / leader closes the liturgy with the following prayer:

"God of wisdom and might,
we praise you for the wonders of our being,
for mind, body, and spirit.
Be with our children as they begin a new school year.
Bless them and their teachers and staff.
Give them strength and grace as their bodies grow;
wisdom and knowledge to their minds as they search for understanding;
and peace and zeal to their spirits.
We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."

Copyright Acknowledgement

Text: New Revised Standard Version of the Bible © National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (NCCC). Adapted by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, Adaptations © 2009, NCCC. All rights reserved.

Text: Excerpts from the English translation of The Roman Missal © 2010, ICEL. All rights reserved. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

“Prayer at the Beginning of a School Year / Semester / Term” from Blessings and Prayers for Home and Family, copyright © Concacan Inc., 2004. All rights reserved. Reproduced with permission of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. Visit cccbpublications.ca

Image: See, I Am Making All Things New (Marginal Treatment), Donald Jackson, Copyright 2011, The Saint John’s Bible, Saint John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota USA. Used by permission.  All rights reserved.