For the second time, students in the faith formation program at Immaculate Heart of Mary parish in Watervliet have penned their own prayers, assembled into a book that parishioners could read during a coffee hour after Mass that was hosted by faith formation classes.

Though the book is only distributed at the parish, not sold, its "release" coincided this year with IHM's celebration of World Youth Day and a collection of winter wear for Joseph's House in Troy. Joseph's House shelters homeless people and provides other support. "Each child gets their own copy, and we have a few extra available for folks in the parish to take a look at," noted Sharon Kowalski, coordinator of faith formation at IHM. At the coffee hour, "we put a copy of the book on every table. It's very favorably received by not only the children and their families, but people in the parish, as well."

Each time IHM has done the prayer project, there has been a theme. This year, it's "The Family and Prayer: The Faith Prayed."

"Prayer is such an abstract idea to many children. We try to give them tangibles to help them create that lifeline to God," said Mrs. Kowalski.

One week, students made prayer boxes in which to put intentions. They took the boxes home as reminders to pray there, as well as in class or at church.

There's also a "prayer project" for the year -- this year, supporting the wife of a catechist, who has breast cancer. Students were given breast cancer awareness bracelets as reminders to pray for her.

Junior high and high school students end every faith formation session with a "Minute with Jesus" that lasts for several minutes, a silent time for personal prayer. (KB)



Here are some of the prayers written by the students:

Dear God, Have you seen my grandfather lately? I know he's up there with you, but I was hoping you knew what he's been up to. That's all I wanted to say; get back to me when you can. -- Michael
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Lord, I wish I could talk to you more. It's just so hard to empty my mind. Thank you for keeping me and my family safe. Please, Lord, help us protect animals. I hope you get this message. Thank you. -- N.
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Please, Lord, watch over my cousin, who has just found out he has a high-grade brain tumor. Let him live long with his two beautiful children. -- H.
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Dear God, please help my baby brothers when they are in the hospital. Amen. -- Jeremy
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Dear God, please pray for Jasper and other dogs. -- Anonymous
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Dear God, thank you for my fish. Thank you for fixing my arm. -- Kendall
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Dear God, can you please help me get better so I can go to Flight Trampoline Park? -- A.J.
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Dear God, please watch over my Grammas, especially my Gramma Jeanne, 'cause she has a broken arm. -- William
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Dear God, please take care of my dog in heaven. I miss him so much. Please make sure he is healthy. -- Mackenzie
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Dear God, thank you for my cat, Max. Thank you for my two sisters. -- Leo
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Dear God, please help John Wiley. He was helping a man get out of a fire and he died while doing his duty. Please help his family. -- Zachary
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Lord, thank you for all I have been given throughout my life. Please forgive me for all of my sins and please watch over me throughout the rest of my life. -- M.
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Dear God, thank you for giving me Mommy and Daddy and Mike and Mikey. Take me to Disney with Erin. -- Edward
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Thank you, God, for taking very good care of my Nana. I may not see her, but I know she can see me. -- Cecilia
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Dear God, thank you for my family. I love my family and you, God, and please let my family into your kingdom. Amen -- Rocco
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Dear God, thank you for good food and water to eat and drink. Also, thank you for a family and even life. Amen. -- Edward
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Dear God, thank you for my family, my friends, my food and my school. Can you help my Grandpa get through his medical trauma? He had a stroke and pneumonia and needs help. Please hear my prayer -- Your friend, Peter
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Dear God, thank you for my new home, my new school, and my new friends. If you could, would you ask my Gram if she still remembers me up in heaven and the family? Could you have her tell me and my family somehow? Can you tell them that I love them so much? Thank you. -- Maeve
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Lord, help me to sit still in church. -- Anonymous
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Dear God, Thank you for giving me the gift of drawing and please give me the motivation to continue my hobby. Thank you for keeping Gray Gus alive when he was sick and keep him going for a few more years. Also watch over Tigger and keep him healthy. Please forgive me my sins and help me make sure I don't do them again. Help me get over a grudge. I need your strength to do so. -- Adrianna
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Dear God, thank you for family. It has been the best thing. -- Aiden K.
Dear Lord, Thank you for everything I have. And please protect my best friend Olivia from the hurricane. Also, please heal my Grandma. She is having pain and she really hurts. Please do these things and I will try not to be bad. Thank you for all you have done. -- Haeli
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Dear God, please help my Dad's finger get better so he can play with me. Amen. -- Leighton
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I thank you, God, for letting me, Sammie, help out at Sunday Funday, [a local fundraiser]. Amen. -- Sam
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God, thank you for this beautiful land, water and Earth. Sorry, God, for the thousands of things I've done wrong. -- N.
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Dear God, thanks for food and a house. -- Nikolas
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Dear Jesus, thank you for food and water for my puppy, Annie. Thank you the most for my family. I am sorry for fighting with my sister and Mom and Dad. I'm very sorry. -- Julia
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Dear God, please feed the hungry and give to the poor. -- Matthew
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Dear God, thank you for houses, food, family, friends, buildings and schools. Also, thank you for stores and clothes and toys. -- Addisyn
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Hey, God, how is Gabe doing? Is he being fed and is he healthy? God, can you keep Gabe safe? Thanks, God. -- Caleb
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Dear God, thank you for food, water, plants and air. Without it, we wouldn't be alive right now. Thanks for pets like dogs, cats, fish, turtles and more. -- Domenic
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Dear Father, thank you for everything you have given to us, like pets, family, food, technology. Please help my cousin speak and help everyone be in heaven some day. -- Jacob