The DRE told me that one of the parish priests would be stopping by sometime during class to talk to the young people about becoming altar servers. He was visiting several classrooms, and I didn’t know how much time he would spend in each one nor the order in which he would visit. So I started class knowing that at some point we’d have a visitor, though I didn’t know exactly when. Of course, he came in just as we were settling into a guided reflection.
I hit pause on the CD player, telling Father Mike that we were praying but leaving it open for him to make his announcements. To his credit, he realized something special was happening, and he said he’d like to join us for the prayer and pulled up a chair. I resumed playing the Finding God reflection CD, and the entire class and our visitor spent the next minutes in prayer. This was the first time I had used one of the guided reflections this year, so I was particularly pleased that the class seemed receptive to the extended period of quiet prayer. After the prayer experience ended, I welcomed Father formally to our classroom and thanked him for joining us in our prayer time. He graciously said he enjoyed praying that way himself and then proceeded to talk about altar serving, as was his intent for the evening.
While I have had priests visit my classroom before, this was the first time a priest joined us for an imaginative prayer experience like this one. It was a lovely experience welcoming a visitor into our prayer circle. The young people could witness in a subtle way that priests can pray with them outside the context of liturgy and then join in conversation with them. Because Father was already seated for prayer, he did his ministry call from the seated position, which made it more informal, and he took a few moments to talk about what a priest does too—a nice way to talk about vocations without being heavy-handed or gathering for a formal presentation.
When we have other visitors, I hope we can naturally welcome them into our class in a way similar to how this evening played out. Maybe I’ll make a point of inviting visitors to pray with us to encourage a community sense of prayer on both sides.
How have you prayed with visitors to your classroom, whether planned or spontaneously? Are there other ways you have welcomed visitors to make it feel more like a sharing of experience rather than a break for announcements?