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Community called to prayer breakfast

MICHAEL KIRAL / L’Observateur / September 16, 1998

LAPLACE – Churches and schools have been the pillars of American society since the founding of the country. But in recent years, a wall has beenplaced between these two important aspects of our communities.

In order to start chipping away at that wall and rebuilding an avenue between the community and its schools, St. John the Baptist ParishDistrict 11 school board member Russ Wise has scheduled a Community Prayer Breakfast for 8 a.m., Sept. 19, at East St. John High School. All members of the community are invited to attend the free breakfast.

Wise said announcements will be made in area churches and invitations will be sent to members of the business alliance.

“The entire community is invited to the prayer breakfast,” Wise said. “Itis not a closed party. The invitation is wide open.”Wise said there used to be prayer breakfasts in the parish when Barbara Ferguson was superintendent, and that the first thing that needs to be done is to re-energize them.

The breakfast will start with a celebration for the opening of school and the presence of God in the community. There will be singing, and two localyouth groups will participate. The pastors attending will then offerprayers for each segment of the schools – teachers, support personnel, bus drivers, parents, students, etc. A representative from each of those groupswill then make a response.

“The next time we hold it, we want to have other clergy from other churches to participate so it doesn’t become an in-crowd thing” Wise said.

“If we can continue this over the next three to four years, we would like every member for every religion to participate in the breakfast.”At the breakfast, plans will also be discussed to have churches adopt schools. Wise met with about a dozen clergy members two weeks ago andsaid they seemed to be interested in the idea. The breakfast will allowmembers of the churches and the principals in the parish to get a chance to meet and discuss the best ideas for the program.

Wise said the idea behind the adoption program is two-fold – to get people who have not been in the schools since they graduated into the schools and have them see that the horror stories they have been hearing over the last 20 years are not true; and to expose the students to responsible, caring adults and show them the best place to find those people is in the church.

It would be entirely up to the church member and principal to decide how the church can get involved. Some ideas have been to use members astutors, monitors, chaperons or office helpers. Members could not discussreligion with the students.

“It is about having the kids exposed to the positive feedback that every kid needs,” Wise said. “It is nothing about getting the church involved inschools. It is about getting the community involved in schools again. Thewhole point is getting people that are dedicated to a higher purpose to interact with the kids. We want to bring the people in the churches, notthe ologies, but the people to communicate with the schools for the benefit of the kids and the community as a whole.”Wise said he hopes the principals and pastors make contact at the breakfast and that the clergy members go back to their churches and discuss the idea with their church leaders and congregations. Wise hopesby Thanksgiving that every school will be covered by at least one church.

Schools can be adopted by more than one church and the churches can adopt more than one school.

Wise said beside the services provided to the schools, the long-term affect could be the presence of the positive role models in the schools.

“This has to be a long-term commitment on the part of the churches,” Wise said. “The churches and schools need to interact and support eachother. Raising a kid takes time, and so does raising a community.”

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