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May the Lord give strength to his people; may the Lord bless his people with peace (Psalm 29:11).
As the school year begins and teachers gather to be welcomed and oriented to our programs, let us not forget the importance of recognizing their call from the Lord. (It seemed like you made the call, but the call is from the Lord.)
The document Co-Workers in the Vineyard of the Lord (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2005) states that “By virtue of their call, lay ecclesial ministers take on a new relationship to the mission of the Church and to the other ministers who work to accomplish it.” We are told that each of us has been called specifically to the work of sharing and celebrating the teachings of the Lord. As your team comes together, ask the Lord to bless each person and their respective tasks.
Ask catechists and aides to gather before you or the person who will lead them in their work together. You might want to have on hand a display of their texts, teacher manuals, and tools of their tasks. Light a candle and begin by reading the quote from the bishops’ document in the previous paragraph.
Leader: We come together today to ask for your blessing, Lord, on our work in this vineyard this year.
Bless these workers (if you have a copy of your diocese’s Child Protection Program, raise it in this prayer) as they protect our students by teaching them in safe environments and under the direction of our diocese and parish.
Bless our teachers and aides as they learn good teaching techniques and models of sharing faith with the students.
Bless also the special gifts that each of our co-workers bear. Bless those with humor, those with the ability to share stories, those with abundant compassion, those who are strong with knowledge and understanding of our faith.
Bless our books (have teachers and aides hold up the texts and teacher manuals) as we use them to share your teachings with students. Throughout this year, we ask for greater parent involvement. Help us to recognize your teachings through the Scripture included in the texts. Make us aware of your message through the liturgy and the Sacraments we teach, and be with us as we encourage our students to enter faith in action and discipleship.
Bless our teaching tools (hold up the teaching tools you’ve collected—pencils, crayons, storybooks, Bibles, DVDs, CDs, maps, etc.) that we use to highlight our messages to our students. Help us to keep them handy and always in good condition.
I ask you, Lord, to bless me as I work to guide these my co-workers. I greatly love and respect these men and women who have come forward to serve you. I admire their acceptance of your call for them to serve. I truly appreciate the time they give to prepare their lessons and evaluate and improve the work they do. And I admire the way they share their own experiences with one another and encourage one another in this important ministry.
Bless us all with courage and confidence because we enter your vineyard, Lord, with a little fear. Help us to be strong in handling difficult situations. Help us to stay alert even when we are tired or frustrated. Help us to know that, as we work, you are with us and we have nothing to fear.
Now, if you or someone of your group has a little musical ability, a perfect song to share and close your prayer with is the well-know song titled “Be Not Afraid” by Bob Dufford, S.J. (produced by New Dawn Music).
Share a sign of peace together and remember that you are all blessed and ready to be the Lord’s co-workers!
Mary has professional served parishes and dioceses for more than 40 years and continues to enjoy catechetics in Dallas, TX. She is the author of Stories to Invite Faith Sharing (Resource Publications.)