By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
WEST POINT — Seventh-grader Cooper Boylan wasn’t sure what to “give up” for Lent this year. “I wanted it to be something that really challenged me to grow closer to my faith, not just giving up sugar or video games, but something meaningful that would be a learning experience for me,” he recalled.
Cooper, who attends Holy Trinity Junior/Senior High School in Fort Madison, asked his mom, Cortney Boylan, for advice. “She recommended praying on it, so I decided to do just that.” He decided to create a prayer journal in which he could reflect on daily Scripture readings during Lent.
Cortney Boylan, director of family and youth ministry for parishes in West Point, Houghton, St. Paul and Farmington, loved the idea. She thought other youths would want to do something similar. With only a few days before Lent would begin, she helped her son develop his idea into a Word document. In addition to Scripture readings and reflection questions, she included space to set goals for practicing the three pillars of Lent — praying, fasting and almsgiving.
Cooper’s younger brother, Brody Boylan, and his fifth-grade class at Holy Trinity Elementary in West Point are also using the journals. They take time in class each day to write in the journals and are encouraged to take them home on weekends and breaks. “We are very excited about this project,” co-teachers Jessica Moore and Sydni Foecke said in an email to The Catholic Messenger. The journals are “an amazing resource that can be used in our classroom to help our fifth-grade students strengthen their prayer life. We love that we have this opportunity to help our students grow in their personal faith journey. In addition to that, we love that we can complete this journey with our students in hopes to create a Christ-centered atmosphere in our classroom!”
Fifth-grader Anna Rempe thinks the journals are a great idea “because we get to express our feelings and thoughts about what the reading is trying to tell us.”
Classmate Charlie Scheetz enjoys reflecting on “amazing Bible verses and it feels so good to read those and to be able to do the Lent prayer journal.”
“You can use your imagination and figure out different thoughts for the readings,” said fifth-grader Nolan Peitz.
Classmate Maddy Kieler believes the journals are “a great way to reflect during Lent, and (they) help us learn about the Bible.”
Cortney Boylan said her sons are “very excited” to be sharing this with Brody’s classmates, and there is potential to develop and expand the journals to more classrooms and age groups in the future.