Last Updated: Wednesday - 01/05/2011
November 19, 2001
Sister lists 54 types of prayer
She encourages catechists to teach children many ways to pray
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
NISKU — If you think prayer is just sitting there in silence, think again. Sister Lorraine Couture can list 54 forms of prayer.
"There are countless ways of praying," she said. "Prayer is anything that helps my relationship with God grow."
Anything, including dancing, doodling, journaling, poetry, praying with objects and praying with incense. "Prayer can literally happen at any time, any place and in any way."
Couture, a Sister of the Presentation of Mary from Prince Albert, Sask., led a workshop on prayer at the Western Conference of Catholic Religious Educators Nov. 7-10 at the Nisku Inn.
About 100 religious educators from 24 dioceses in Western Canada and the Northwest Territories attended the conference, which is aimed at offering them education and resources. Most participants were catechists at the parish and school levels.
Bishop Lawrence Huculak of the Edmonton Ukrainian Eparchy was guest speaker at the conference, whose theme was Evangelization in the Third Millennium.
Six workshops on catechetical issues were offered at the conference, including Couture's The Experience of Prayer in Nurturing Our Spiritual Lives. About 30 catechists chose her workshop, which was offered twice Nov. 10.
We pray mainly to be in contact with God, to be aware of God's presence in our lives and to become more open to what he wants us to do, said Couture, who works with parish teams of catechists in the Prince Albert Diocese.
"Sometimes it's silence and just presence, sometimes it's celebration and joy for something that's happened, sometimes it can be dancing, it can be anything."
She said there are many forms of prayer and encouraged participants to teach more than one form of prayer. "If children know only one way to pray and this fails, they will think they have failed at prayer," she said. "They will say, 'I don't know how to pray.'"
But, as the nun explained, there are many ways to trigger prayer in people. "Sculpture or molding something is a form of prayer because as you are playing with this and making the thing you are thinking on a topic or you can be talking to God about something," she said.
Journaling, the writing of one's experiences, can be a calming, prayerful experience, according to the nun. Catechists should provide time for journaling and sometimes provide the topic. For example, children or youth attending catechetical courses can be asked to write about a time they felt God's forgiveness. At other times quiet moments can be provided so children or youth can compose their own thoughts.
There are also newspaper prayers where children and youth can bring articles from a newspaper about people and events needing prayer.
Catechists can also teach their pupils to pray with gestures, which intensify one's involvement with the prayer.
Workshop participants explored the meaning of prayer and tried different forms of prayer using a Scripture passage. Some chose to sculpt with play dough, others chose journaling, some to pray with objects and others chose poetry. With their eyes closed they listened attentively as Couture read the passage and asked them to imagine themselves in the Sea of Galilee with Jesus.
Those who chose journaling or poetry wrote something about their experience. Those who chose to pray with an object or to mold play dough explained what they experienced.
Kathie Shewfelt, religious education coordinator for the Whitehorse Diocese, said she attended Couture's workshop because she wants to put on a similar workshop for religious educators in the Whitehorse school system.
"What I learned is that prayer doesn't have to be sophisticated. It can be very simple and in tune with where people are at in their lives."
Manuelita Mejias, catechetical coordinator at Winnipeg's St. Edward the Confessor Parish, attended the prayer workshop to inform herself on new forms of prayer.
"I'm quite impressed. I didn't know you could use objects for prayer." Mejias said she plans to share Couture's 54 ways to pray with catechists in her parish.
Speaking at the conference's closing Divine Liturgy, Bishop Huculak said by educating people on the faith, catechists are simply doing Jesus' work.
"I encourage you to continue to carry out the work that Jesus started some 2,000 years ago," he said. "When he left this earth he didn't abandon the human race but he left his helpers to continue the work and you are among those helpers."
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