Beginning a New Year—A Prayer Service for Catechists

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Even when we are fully committed to starting a new enterprise or returning to an old one, we may have ambivalent feelings about it. Anticipation mixes with misgivings; hope mixes with fear. As an old song says, however, “Great things happen when God mixes with us” (Carey Landry and Carol Jean Kinghorn, OCP). We step forward in faith, knowing we can do all things in God who strengthens us.

You will need a Bible and three readers. Be sure that the sections of Scripture for each reader is clearly marked in the Bible. As the leader, be prepared to begin the “Sharing of Hopes” part of the prayer.


Leader: Happy New Year! It’s the start of a new learning year for the children God has entrusted to us. Whether or not you have been a catechist before, a mixture of hope and apprehension probably fills your heart. As a returning catechist, you recall the things that went well last year and hope to duplicate your successes. Remembering the things that didn’t go so well, you think about the changes you want to make. Knowing that each group of children has its own special needs, you hope to recognize and meet those needs. Being realistic, however, you know that in some ways you will fail. No teacher, however well-intentioned, is perfect as God is perfect. So today let us take all our hopes and fears to our God in prayer.

First Reader: We begin with the words of Psalm 116. Our response to each part of the prayer will be “Gracious is the Lord and righteous; yes, our God is merciful.”

All: Gracious is the Lord and righteous.

First Reader: Read Psalm 116:1-2.

All: Gracious is the Lord and righteous.

First Reader: Read Psalm 116:6-7.

All: Gracious is the Lord and righteous.

First Reader: Read Psalm 116:12-13.

All: Gracious is the Lord and righteous.

Leader: Let us lay before the Lord the hopes we have for our students this year. I will begin, and then anyone who wishes to add something may do so. My hope is that…. (Allow plenty of time for the Sharing of Hopes.)

Leader: We begin this year with the best of intentions, but we know that teaching children isn’t always easy. There are times when our students misunderstand us, and there are times when we misunderstand them. There are times when our patience grows short, our ideas run out, the right words escape us, and we have less time to prepare for class than we’d like. Yet, Holy Scripture is full of advice and encouragement for us at times like that.

Second Reader: Read Sirach 2:1-11.

Leader: Let us never think that we are not up to our task. We have this assurance from the Apostle Paul.

Third Reader: Read Romans 8:11, 14-15.

Leader: The same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead is alive in us, always ready to help us carry on. The same Father that Christ trusted in good times and in bad is our Father, too, always ready to hear our cry for help.

All:  If we stumble, God is there to pick us up. If we make a mistake, God is there to tell us what we can learn from our mistake. We are never alone.

Leader: We do not enter our classrooms alone. We do not teach on our own power. And after the last child has left the room and it is time to turn out the lights, we still are not alone.

All: The same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead remains in us.

Leader: The same Lord that sends us forth on our teaching mission remains with us, ready to answer our every question and prayer.

All: Glory be to the Father…

Sister Alice Ann Pfeifer, CSA,
has worked in religious education as a teacher and writer for the past 25 years. She holds a master’s degree in pastoral studies from St. Joseph’s College of Maine and presently resides in Fond du Lac, WI.


This article appeared in Catechist magazine, January 2014.

Image Credit: Shutter Stock 153536591

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