Getting parishes ready for back-to-school

Question

My church has a blessing of backpacks for school. Are there other blessings for going back to school? Any suggestions?

Answer

It’s often hard to think about going back to school in the heat of summer, but many parishes use this time to support education and engage a new generation of disciples. Not sure how to start?  Here are some ideas to get your parish going as we approach back-to-school.

Blessing of the Backpack This is mentioned by our reader. Parishes can hold a special blessing during a Sunday Mass in August and ask kids to bring their backpack with them. At a determined time, provide a special blessing for the children, one that asks that they will learn, grow and be protected by God in the upcoming school year. As part of the Year of St. Joseph, consider purchasing some St. Joseph medals, have them blessed and then give them to the students to put in their backpacks, as a blessed medal protects those who carry it.  

Roll out the Red Carpet Have a “red carpet Sunday Mass” and invite the children to walk the red carpet as they enter the church before Mass begins. Parents can line the side of the carpet and cheer the children on as they begin a new Catholic school year or religious education year.  Since many public schoolchildren did not attend school in person last year, this is a great way to cheer the new year!

Reduce-Reuse-Recycle Back-to-school clothes shopping can easily blow a family budget. Consider holding a reduce-reuse-recycle event at your parish. Families can bring in clothes (in good condition) that their children no longer wear and choose “gently used” clothes for their kids. There is no charge to anyone. It helps families get rid of sizes they don’t need, while being able to find new sizes. If your school has a uniform, this can be a lifesaving event. After the event, all remaining clothes are donated to St. Vincent de Paul.  

Honor Your Teachers Many Catholic grade schools employ educators from a variety of faith backgrounds. Help these teachers feel welcome in your parish by bringing in some bakery, good coffee or platter of sub sandwiches along with a thank- you note from the parish.  

Commissioning Mass Hold a commissioning Mass for teachers and catechists celebrating the start of the upcoming year. Have a reception after the Mass where teachers and catechists can get to know each other.  

Above all else, please pray for all students who will be returning to school. The 2020-2021 school year was unlike anything the world has ever experienced and many children struggled. As we approach the upcoming school year, pray that our children will gain the education, wisdom and discernment they need to reach the fullness of life that God intends for each of them.

Paul is the advancement director for Catholic schools for the Diocese of Green Bay.