By Julia Lovett
Flamborough Review (Feb 24, 2017)
Seven years ago, Christian meditation was introduced to students at St. Brigid Catholic Elementary School and it has since been encouraged to expand throughout the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board.
“As a result of positive influence this ancient form of prayer has had on our students, it was felt that the practice of Christian meditation should be promoted throughout the school board,” said assistant superintendent of education Morris Hucal during a presentation of the report during the religion, family life and instructional services meeting Feb. 21.
“To this end, support for this prayer practice has been included in the BIPSA — Board Improvement Plan for Student Achievement — for the last three years,” he added.
According to Dr. Paul Beaudette, the board's religion and family life program leader, Christian meditation is a silent 'prayer of the heart' which involves sitting still and upright and giving one's full attention to the repeated recitation of a sacred prayer word or 'mantra.'
Hucal said it was during the 2014-15 school year that the practice was expanded to include other schools in the district and was taught to students in kindergarten through Grade 12.
Meanwhile Beaudette explained that consultants for the board, Andy Burns, Leanne Thompson and Sister Anne Marshall of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph — the original sister who introduced the prayer technique — are the primary ambassadors.
“It is our hope that the practice of Christian meditation continue to become deeply routed in our classrooms and our schools so that learners both young and old deepen their relationship with God and benefits from its fruits,” he said.
In fact, Beaudette said a couple of weekends ago, leaders of Catholic education took part in an overnight meditation retreat. To conclude the presentation, Beaudette and Hucal showed a video of Bishop Douglas Crosby of the Diocese of Hamilton talking about his experience of meditation with students at St. Brigid.
“Just talking to the young people about what they experienced and to hear them — to hear them talk about them being calm and focused and the experience of God in their life,” Crosby said in the video.
“Christian meditation is a beautiful form of prayer, it’s very different from the celebration of mass and or the reading of the psalms. It’s a quiet meditative prayer and it would probably be the kind of prayer that monks and cloistered sisters — nuns would experience in their convents and monasteries,” he added.
Since growing over the years, the report explained that it is essential that the prayer practice continue to receive ongoing support, as there has been positive feedback from everyone from teachers to students.
“More and more, people are using Christian meditation as a form of — a very profound form of prayer, personal prayer and communal prayer and you experience peace the love of God as you do this,” Crosby said.