How often do the youth learn how to pray? For some, prayer means kneeling and wearing a serious face then making their supplications and reciting the traditional prayers. It then becomes a habit and others even start faking sickness to avoid that routine.
However, there are innovative ways different faith have chosen to teach the youth how to pray. In a bid to strengthen the youth in faith, Holy Cross Family Ministries, Catholic faith-based organisation conducts the annual Try Prayer! It works! contests which encourages students to express their faith through art, poetry, and prose.
Teachings to life
This year’s contest took place at St Peter’s Church Nsambya under the theme ‘Mary, Mother of the Church’. According to the Rev Fr Herman Zziwa Mukasa, the chaplain of Nkumba University who was the main celebrant, the Try Prayer! It works! Contest focuses on family faith enrichment in a home.
“The goal of this contest is to bring the Church’s teachings to life around the dinner table with discussion prompts, reflection questions, prayer ideas and creativity,” Fr Zziwa says.
Fr Leonard Olobo, the director of Holy Cross Family Ministries in East Africa, says each year, children and teenagers from Catholic schools, parishes and other Catholic organisations across the country utilise their creative skills to illustrate the different faith-based themes.
This year, Our Lady of Africa SSS Namilyango were declared champions during the finals of the competition, which were held at the premises of Holy Cross Family Ministries at Nsambya on Saturday. The ensemble of Namilyango scored 247 points to take the championship.
They were followed by St Augustine’s College, Wakiso which scored (235 points), Our Lady Queen of Africa Girls SS, Rubaga managed (217 points), St Joseph’s SS, Naggalama (204 points) and St Peter’s SS, Nsambya, who scored 185 points.
Apart from the trophies, he presented to the winners, Fr Olobo also gave certificates and cash gifts to individual students that performed extraordinarily.
Catherine Nanteza, a student of St Joseph of Nazareth Secondary School, Kavule, won a certificate and $200(approx Shs700,000) from Holy Cross Family Ministries International. She was rewarded for her poem, which was deemed the best at international level, by the international judges.
Holy Cross Family Ministries sends out invitations to schools and those interested fill in forms that show their willingness and the items they will present. Items are restricted to poems, original composition which is a song, and a play or drama with a theme.
Why schools need this
Fr Olobo thanked the participating schools for the enormous sacrifice and commitment they exhibited.
“I encourage more schools to participate in the annual competition because it helps the students to be grounded in the Christian faith, and also, to embrace a culture of prayer which will keep them equipped with facts to defend their religions in case of any diversions,” he emphasised.
Fr Olobo said music, drama, and poetry was an effective method of preaching the gospel, which had to be embraced.
The Congregation of Holy Cross sent missionaries from the US to Uganda in 1958. The first group, which consisted of four priests, arrived on November 4. They were led by Fr Vincent J. McCauley, C.S.C., who later became the first Bishop of the Diocese of Fort Portal. Within a year, they were joined by three brothers.
The Congregation was entrusted with the northern part of Mbarara Diocese. Priests do pastoral work, education, and social development.