Birmingham: Archbishop Nichols launches family 'prayer bags'

Archbishop Vincent Nichols, Archbishop-elect of Westminster, launched an initiative to give one thousand specially designed family 'prayer bags' to primary schools throughout the Archdiocese of Birmingham, last Tuesday.

The prayer bags, masterminded by the Archdiocese of Birmingham's Department of Religious Education, contain suggestions for family prayer, scripture readings and religious symbols to remind families of the continuous loving presence of God.

During his last visit to a Birmingham school as Archbishop of Birmingham, Archbishop Nichols presided over a special liturgy at St Thomas More Catholic Primary School in Sheldon, comprised of prayers, scripture readings and hymns.

During a short homily Archbishop Nichols told the children: "The prayer bags will help every family to sit together and pray and know from the inside that Jesus Christ is with us always."

The Archbishop, the newly elected President of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, told the parents present: "It is not easy to get a family to sit down and pray together. It never was easy.

"Even for me as a boy in my own family I thought it was boring. But I was reluctantly dutiful. I know that as a family we all gained from it. Prayer strengthened our family life and we sensed our lives had a calling, a purpose."

Archbishop Nichols encouraged the children to take the prayer bag home with them when it comes to their turn. He emphasised: "You have a job to do. You are God's messengers. A messenger for Our Lord. In fact you are the first and the best of messengers. Take the lead. You have something to say and it is this: 'Here it is, it is our turn with the prayer bag, please can we sit down and pray together'."

Archbishop Vincent Nichols added: "Children, I know you can do it. I know you love to say your prayers. I know you feel right to be together and pray together."

At the end of the liturgy, the Archbishop presented a set of prayer bags to children and families of the school before receiving a set to take with him to use in the Archdiocese of Westminster.

Fr Jonathan Veasey, Director of Religious Education in the Archdiocese of Birmingham said: "The project sets out to help schools in their work of encouraging families to pray together."

Fr Veasey added: "Part of our educational task is to support parents as first teachers of their children in the ways of faith and to appreciate that in the ordinary events of family life, the joys and struggles, we discover the presence and life of God."

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