Students take home vocations prayer packets

Anne Marie Amacher
Michelle Steen distributes rosaries to second-grade religious education students blessed by Father Nicholas Akindele Oct. 2 at St. John Vianney Church in Bettendorf.

By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger

BETTENDORF — Prayer folders containing prayer books, rosary instructions, ways to foster vocations and a seminarian card are being circulated among religious education families at St. John Vianney Parish in Bettendorf and St. Anthony Parish in Davenport.

St. Serra Club for the Diocese of Davenport resurrected the prayer and rosary packet project, said Deb McAfoos, a club member. She and her daughter, Meredith Dreasler, implemented a trial run last year at St. Paul the Apostle Parish-Davenport. This year the club offered the program to interested parishes.

At St. Paul the Apostle, prayer items were placed in a backpack and distributed to each classroom and sent home with a different family each week, McAfoos said.
“Several students responded that they had prayed with their family or on their own. We talked about the importance of praying for new vocations. In addition to this emphasis, we hoped to foster family prayer using the prayer book and the rosary as a family devotion as recommended by St. John Paul II.”

“We love that families can see the faces of the seminarians on the new cards so that they can pray for them specifically.”

Folders replaced backpacks this year. St. John Vianney distributed around 350 prayer folders to students in grades one through six. St. Anthony planned to distribute 50 folders. The prayer folders are available in Spanish and a Vietnamese version is being created.

Vocations committee members Pat Monahan and Tom Touney of St. John Vianney Parish said youths need to learn prayers early. Touney said the prayer folder project provides an opportunity to foster family prayer at home and to pray for vocations.

The packets contain before- and after-meals prayers, seven ways that families can encourage vocations, a prayer for vocations, Serra International’s Book of Prayers, a rosary instruction pamphlet and 40 ways to foster prayer at home. A separate card features photos and names of the diocese’s 10 seminarians. Rosaries were also distributed. Parishes may add materials to the packets, McAfoos said.

Religious education students at St. John Vianney decorated their empty, white folders in classrooms Oct. 2 before going into the church. Jeannie Moran, the parish’s co-director of religious education, welcomed the younger students in grades one through three and then grades four through six.

She told the students that when they returned to the classroom they would receive a plastic bag full of prayers. She asked students for some examples of prayer. One student said the “Glory Be.” Another said it was a time to thank God for what he has done for people. Moran added that it’s a time to have a conversation with God.

She thanked Monahan and Touney and the vocations committee for assembling the bags. Then she told the students, “Their ministry is to promote vocations — not vacations. They ask us to pray and to learn how to pray. You can pray alone or with your family. Maybe one day one of you wants to be a priest?”

Father Nicholas Akindele, the parish’s parochial vicar, asked the students if they liked soccer. Many raised their hands. He asked what they needed to do to be a better soccer player. Practice, the students responded. “Good. What do you do to be holy?” Pray, they responded. He encouraged the students to pray with their families using the packets and then blessed their rosaries. After returning to their classrooms, students received a letter written by Father Jim Vrba, the pastor, about the prayer folders.

John Cooper, pastoral associate at St. Anthony’s, said McAfoos approached him with the prayer folder idea and he got approval from Father Apo Mpanda, the pastor, to provide prayer folders to religious education students. St. Anthony’s prays a monthly rosary for priests, deacons, religious and seminarians before Mass, Cooper noted.

St. Serra Club vocation and prayer packets are available at no cost to parishes, McAfoos said. Contact davenportserraclub@gmail.com for information. The club pays for the items through its annual gala, which will be celebrated Nov. 15 at the Outing Club in Davenport. Bishop Thomas Zinkula will preside at Mass. Guest speaker will be John Leonetti. A silent auction will be held with items including artwork by Paul Herrera of the Art Legacy League inspired by the late Father Edward Catich. Gala tickets are $50 per person. To receive a formal invitation, go to https://bit.ly/2kyi5cG.

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