Dear young people of the diocese,
It’s hard to believe a new school year is already upon us! Summer vacation always seems to go by so quickly. I hope you were able to enjoy many of the warm, sunny days with your friends and family. Although you may be a little sad that summer is ending, I hope you’re also excited about your new classes, extra-curricular activities and reconnecting with teachers and classmates.
Some of you, however, may be anxious about the new school year, especially if you’re attending a new school, are worried about making new friends and aren’t sure what to expect. Maybe you’re concerned about a difficult class schedule. Or maybe you’re stressed about balancing responsibilities at school and at home.
As a student many years ago, I also worried about these things. What I found helpful — and what I recommend to you — is spending time every day with Jesus in prayer, even for just a few minutes. Jesus himself knew how important prayer was. He prayed often, frequently going off by himself to be with his Father.
Just like Jesus, it’s important for you to spend quiet time with God every day. You can say a familiar prayer like the Our Father or Hail Mary, but you can also talk to God like you would talk to your best friend. God made you and loves you, and he knows you better than anyone else. In prayer, you can tell him about your joys and struggles. You can seek his wisdom. And you can ask for his help when you are sad, angry or confused. Don’t forget to set aside some quiet time, too, so you can also listen to what God might be saying to you.
It’s also good to pray with your family. Praying together at Sunday Mass, before meals, before going to bed, and at other times will help your family members to deepen their relationship with God and one another. Making daily prayer a priority will set a strong and lasting example for every member of your family.
Prayer is an essential part of being a Christian. But, if you continue to feel anxious or stressed, if you are being bullied or mistreated by another person, if you are worried about the welfare of another classmate or friend, please let an adult whom you trust know — one of your parents, a teacher, a youth minister or pastor. They love you, too. They want what’s best for you and those you love, and they will help.
I hope you have a wonderful school year. Maybe I’ll see you during one of my visits to parishes and schools around the diocese. If you see me, please stop and say hello. I care deeply for you and all the young people of our diocese, and I will be praying for you. Please pray for me, too.
May God bless you,
+ Donald J. Kettler
Bishop of Saint Cloud