The following comes from an August 27 Angelus article by Julie Schnieders:
It’s back-to-school for Catholic school students throughout the archdiocese. But with busy schedules and ever-increasing demands on administrators and teachers, how do educators make prayer a priority in Catholic schools?
The Tidings spoke to Kevin Baxter, superintendent of Catholic schools for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and four different principals in archdiocesan schools to find out how they make prayer a priority not only in September, but all school year long.
At La Purisima Concepción Catholic School in Lompoc, the school year began with a morning prayer assembly outside on the school yard led by eighth graders. Parents gathered together with the faculty and staff to pray with the students.
Principal Orlando Leon has brought back an old tradition at La Purisima Concepción School of holding morning prayers outside when churchgoers attend morning Mass.
“People notice us gathered together. Our faith is visible to the community,” Principal Leon said.
Faith and Catholic identity is evident in the school community of St. Brendan’s Catholic school in Los Angeles, too. Principal Sister Maureen O’Connor, CSJ, prays over the student’s backpacks, or as she calls them, their “constant companions,” on the first day of school.
The students hold up their backpacks while being prayed over outside at the school’s first assembly. Once the school year is off and running, the students pray daily in the classroom.
St. Brendan’s even has a commissioner of religious affairs who writes their own weekly prayer to pray with the entire student body. During the Marian month of October, all grades pray the rosary in their classrooms.
“We are very conscious of prayer,” Sister Maureen said.
At St. Philip the Apostle School in Pasadena, Principal Jennifer Ramirez strives to make prayer spontaneous.
“What Catholic school student doesn’t remember class stopping so that they can pray as a siren was heard from the classroom? That is what we want for our students; for prayer to be their first instinct,” Ramirez said.