DEVOTED Catholic teacher Greg Mennis believes a little can go a long way when children spend time with Jesus Christ in adoration.
The Year 3 educator at Holy Spirit Primary School, Bray Park, has used the school’s daily prayer time to engage with the parish’s Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, offered each Wednesday.
Mr Mennis has done so in response to a sense of modern-day children “not having enough time to sit and think about God”.
Over the four years Mr Mennis has been taking his class to the church “about one hundred metres away” from the classroom, he’s seen “so many benefits”.
“I’ve seen students build more respect for the Church and an understanding of Jesus,” he said. “(And) their respect and reverence for the Church deepens, as well as an understanding of faith.”
The school’s assistant to the principal for religious education Kim Barrett-Coade said the devotion was bearing fruits.
“Adoration is seen as one of the many ways children can pray, building faith and respect to Our Lord,” she said.
“Mr Mennis, taking his class weekly to adoration, is developing the children’s understanding and reverence of the Blessed Sacrament.
“He, like all our teachers, lives the connection with God in his daily interactions, instilling the need and benefit of prayer to his students in their faith journey.”
Mrs Barrett-Coade said the school had regular opportunities for prayerfulness.
“(And) at our weekly prayer assemblies, a class leads the school in the school prayer, school song and the Gospel, either of the previous Sunday or relative to their learning,” she said.
“(And) we have a year-level Mass or liturgy each week with the parish.”
Mr Mennis said Bray Park associate pastor Spiritan Father Gaspar Mushi and parishioners had commented on the students’ reverence before Jesus Christ in adoration.
Fr Mushi noticed that students’ “reverence at year-level Masses in grades above Year 3” had increased, attributing it to time in adoration.
A parishioner also said she had noticed among the students the fruits of time spent in adoration.
“This parishioner, who was doing adoration at 2pm on a Wednesday, said she saw the class and I arrive,” Mr Mennis said.
“She told me that she thought to herself, ‘There goes my quiet adoration time’, but she was pleasantly surprised at their respectfulness.”
Before he begins taking his class to adoration each new school year, Mr Mennis explained its importance, in line with Catholic teaching.
He said he took students “for a walk around the church” and allowed them to “ask any questions”.
The father of four boys said the time in adoration, while challenging for some in the beginning due to the discipline of sitting still, had opened the door to deeper conversations about God, in the classroom.
It was the students, among his class of 27, who prompted him, at times, to not neglect Wednesday adoration.
“Once they are going to adoration, students don’t need a reminder,” Mr Mennis said.
“(And) if I forget, they’ll remind me, that’s how much they enjoy going. They really embrace going.”
While conscious of students from faith traditions other than Catholicism in his class, Mr Mennis said he had not encountered “any negative feedback” from parents or other caregivers.
“I’ve never had any parents say they didn’t want their child to go,” he said.
“I’ve never had any students say they don’t want to go.”
Mrs Barrett-Coade said the school’s outlook about faith expression aligned with parish and family, and described their co-operation as a “partnership”.
“We are one in partnership with the Church and families, in building the knowledge, faith and reverence of our students in relation to God,” she said.
“We see prayer to God, inspired by the Spirit, allows us to live God’s message of love.”
Mr Mennis encouraged other teachers to consider adoration attendance with their class where possible and practical as such a vital use of prayer time within the Catholic school day.