Giving Back: All people, faiths welcome for prayer

Published 11:45 pm Tuesday, September 2, 2014

By Monique Roth

LAPLACE — While Saturday mornings are typically filled with cartoons, sleeping in late and sports games, a group of St. John the Baptist Parish residents have added another potential activity — prayer.

From 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. every Saturday, locals gather for Prayers in the Park at a gazebo in Greenwood Park, located at 398 Greenwood Drive in LaPlace. The park is located across the street from LaPlace Elementary School.

Genevieve Gomez, an assistant principal at West St. John High School, said the idea for the weekly gathering stemmed from prayer meetings held in May and June 2013 for observations of the Baha’i faith, a monotheistic religion emphasizing the spiritual unity of all humankind.

“It was just so uplifting and peaceful,” Gomez said of the prayer gatherings.

Diane Broussard, who also attended the initial gatherings, said it was after those two prayer meetings that Gomez suggested the event become a weekly occurrence.

The women said through word of mouth and social media anywhere from five to 15 people meet each week to come together in prayer.

“Everyone is welcome to come,” Gomez said, adding Catholics, members of the Unification Church, Hindus and Baptists have all attended meetings.

She said a couple of weeks ago prayer group members even went door-to-door in the neighborhoods surrounding the park to personally invite residents to the meetings.

Broussard said the response to the group has been wonderful.

“Everyone we talk to about it thinks it’s a great idea,” she said. “It’s a good way to build community.”

The women said the prayer group addresses general community needs, such as praying for elected officials, praying for students and teachers as school starts back up and praying for peace and a safer community.

Broussard said the group hopes to increase participation and continue to see people of all faiths enjoy the group gatherings.

Gomez said she hopes the weekly prayer gathering is just the tip of the iceberg, and that “more prayer gatherings will start to be hosted throughout the parish.”

Both women are certain of one thing – they believe in the power of prayer.