by Deacon Bill Scholl
As the clouds seem to lift over the pandemic, we realize that lockdowns are taking a toll on the mental health of many of our teens.
According to recent findings published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, based on a survey of 7,705 American high school students, “44% of them reported feeling sad or hopeless almost every day for at least two consecutive weeks. . Thirty-seven percent said their mental health was mostly or always poor during the pandemic. »
Christianity prescribes helping others as a sure path to peace, and mental health experts agree. There is a science to resilience, and data shows that providing adolescents with opportunities for meaningful connections with positive adults and peers is extremely powerful in mitigating the effects of trauma.
Just look at the mystery of the Visitation, where Mary, a teenager, responds to the distress of an unplanned pregnancy (at least for her and Joseph) by meditating in her heart the call of God and rushing out to help cousin Elisabeth.
Pope Saint John Paul II described Mary’s response as one of “prayer and action.” The Prayer and Action Mission (aka Panda) might be just what the youth in your parish need right now.
Prayer and Action is a local missionary journey that allows teenagers to experience Christ through meditative prayer, mass and the sacraments, works of charity and authentic Christian fellowship. It also happens to be a lot of fun.
Because this mission takes place in the archdiocese, costs are kept low and scholarships are available. This year, Prayer and Action will serve Emporia and will be hosted by the parish of the Sacred Heart.
This summer ministry allows Catholic teenagers to step out of themselves to help those who need it most. This service is rendered through the hard hands and open hearts of high school students and their adult leaders.
The most important aspect of prayer and action is encountering Christ through service. Teenagers grow as disciples when they come out of themselves.
The prayer and action sessions last for five days, with parish youth groups arriving on Sunday evening and staying until Friday morning. Throughout the week, teenagers paint, garden, and perform other important tasks for the poor, disabled, and elderly.
The teens spend the week in a distraction-free atmosphere that fosters faith, inspires charity, and brings them closer to Christ. The experience also allows them to meet other high school students from other parts of the Archdiocese who share their Catholic faith. Prayer and Action is led by a team of archdiocesan seminarians and dynamic Catholic women.
Staff and volunteer chaperones work with adolescents at each site. In the evening, teenagers experience “Collatio”, the retreat part of Prayer and Action. This is perhaps the most important part of the day as students play, worship, and grow together in Jesus Christ.
Prayer and action takes place from mid-June to mid-July. To learn more about how your parish can bring a group or to register, go online to: PandaAKC.org.