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echs prayer shaming video 3 jan16An East Catholic High School student holds a sign in this screen shot from their video against “prayer shaming.”

MANCHESTER – More than 400,000 people have viewed a short video produced and published online by students and administrators at East Catholic High School in response to a recent surge in “prayer shaming.”

In the wake of mass killings in San Bernardino and other places, some news outlets criticized public figures who said their “thoughts and prayers” were with the friends and families of the victims. “God isn’t fixing this,” retorted The New York Post in a front page headline, implying that prayer isn’t helping.

Don’t tell that to the kids at East Catholic.

The video, just over two minutes long, shows students holding hand-lettered signs that deliver the message that if God seems to have been absent during these shootings, it could be that “we’ve told God to leave,” that “he’s not welcome in public.”

Students in college are asked to hide their faith, one sign says. The signs urge people of all faiths to pray – for victims, families, for our First Amendment right to “pray freely,” for our safety, for peace, for God to be “allowed back into our lives... without the Prayer Shame.”

Jason Hartling, principal of East Catholic, said, “We know from comments on our Facebook page that there are people from North Carolina and Tennessee and Florida” who have viewed the video.

Comments are positive, saying that it is inspiring, powerful, hopeful, affirming and “something that needed to be said,” he said.

“We wanted to exert the idea that prayer is a powerful piece, that it’s something not to be ashamed of, that it’s something to be proud of,” Mr. Hartling said.

Students have reacted positively to their newfound fame, he said. “There’s also been some great dialogue. I’ve had some students that have sat in my office and they have talked through their perspectives. Some students were concerned that maybe we didn’t say enough. Some students were concerned that they didn’t particularly share the view of the video. So it’s been a positive dialogue,” he said.

That dialogue is part of the educational process at East Catholic, he said. “The dialogue is powerful. It’s something that we really encourage at the school,” he said.

“Our kids are acting every day. They are out in the community and they are serving. We have three big projects going on right now just for the Christmas season, and the idea of prayer and action together, I think that’s a really powerful piece,” he said.

Mr. Hartling appears at the end of the video, holding a sign that says: “Please – share this video along with a prayer today.”

You can view the video at https://vimeo.com/148643920.

alertAt the Spring Assembly of the U.S. bishops, Cardinal Joseph Tobin suggested that a delegation ofbishops go to the border to see for themselves what was happening to newly arrived immigrants, families and children. On July 1 and 2, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. bishops conference, and five other bishops conducted a pastoral visit to the diocese of Brownsville, Texas. Stops included Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle with the community, a visit to anHHS/OBR Shelter and Mass for the families there, a visit to the Customs and Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, TX, and a press conference at the end of their visit. Catholic News Service accompanied the bishops on their border trip. 

  1. Backgrounder and analysis of the bishops’ trip to the border: Cardinal DiNardo told CNS, “You cannot look at immigration as an abstraction when you meet” the people behind the issue.
  2. At final press conference, Cardinal Daniel Dinardo said the church was willing to be part of any conversation to find humane solutions because even a policy of detaining families together in facilities caused “concern.”
  3. Bishops serve soup to immigrant families at a center run by Catholic Charities and listen to their stories. Scranton Bishop Joseph Bambera said he found hope in hearing the people in the room talk about what’s ahead. They didn’t speak of making money but of finding safety for their children, he said, driven by “the most basic instinct to protect your family.”
  4. At an opening Mass he Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle-National Shrine near McAllen, Texas, Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville told Massgoers, “The bishops are visiting here so they can stop and look and talk to people and understand, especially the suffering of many who are amongst us,”

A delegation of U.S. bishops goes on a fact-finding mission at the U.S.-Mexican border to learn more about Central American immigration detention.

Following their visit to an immigrant detention center, U.S. bishops said they are even more determined to call on Congress for comprehensive immigration reform.