With unsettling focus on mask division, let’s unite in back-to-school prayer

One year ago, Levi Bounds and his classmates in Natalie Perry's third grade at Corpus Christi School in Bloomington began the school year as they do every day, with prayer. (The Catholic Post file photo/Jennifer Willems)

No student wants to repeat a grade in school. And no student, parent, teacher, or principal wants a third school year impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet here we are, as another wave grows — fueled by the Delta variant and with no vaccine available for children 12 and under.

Though the virus is the common enemy, the topic of wearing masks — whether mandated as in Illinois or barred from being mandated as in Florida — has led to an unsettling focus on division as this school year begins in both private and public schools.

While our email and social media reflect that our readers have dug in on both sides of the mask issue, we hope all are united in the belief that this back-to-school time should be a time of prayer. And so, whether or not you have a child or grandchild in school, we invite all to join us in offering the one below. It is adapted from “A Prayer to Begin a School Year” found in the book “Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers,” published by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. If you have a special student or students in mind, insert their name(s) in the blank. — Thomas J. Dermody


Blessed are you, Lord God,

Creator of body and mind and heart;

you have sent the Spirit of wisdom and knowledge

to guide your people in all their ways.


At the beginning of this school year,

in this time of uncertainty and anxiety,

we implore your mercy.

Bless and protect our students, teachers,

staffs, their families, and especially _________.

Give wisdom to the decision makers,

be they in our schools or in our homes.


Expand the horizons of our minds,

and deepen our commitment to seek

the truth of your ways.


In these days when so much has changed,

help us to trust in the love of your Son Jesus,

our Divine Teacher, who is the same

yesterday, today, and forever.


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