Prayer and Sacrifice Program for Schools and Parishes
If you would like your class to participate in the Prayer and Sacrifice Program, please contact Roberto Bacalski at the Arlington Mission Office. (703) 532-8815 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Prayer and Sacrifice Program offered through the Arlington Diocese Mission Office, in both English and Spanish, seeks to fulfill the MCA's dual mandate of educating children about their part in the Church's missionary work and challenging them to share what they have with children in Mission Territories. This program gives children the opportunity to pray for a particular child in another part of the world and sacrifice materially for children everywhere. The beauty of Prayer and Sacrifice is that it’s not really a program, but a kit that allows catechists and religion teachers, to integrate it into their curricula in whatever way they choose. Prayer and sacrifice are lifelong aspects of the Christian journey and the materials provided to students free of charge bring these two aspects into focus in a simple way that is appropriate for all grade levels.
The kit consists of a prayer card and a “mite box” for each child. The prayer card has the picture of a child from a particular country that is known to have spiritual and material challenges. On the back of the card is a prayer request on behalf of the child along with statistics and facts about the child’s home. Each student will receive a card to take home and keep. Each day the student is asked to offer a prayer for that child. When Bishop de Forbin-Janson founded the Missionary Childhood Association in 1843, he asked the children to offer one Hail Mary per day for children in the missions.
The second component of the kit is the “mite box,” (named after the story of the Widow’s Mite in Luke 21:1-4). The mite box is a special coin box for the child to keep at home for the duration of the program (e.g. the four weeks of Advent) and make a sacrifice for the benefit of the child on their prayer card and for children all over the world. This sacrifice could be a portion of their allowance or money earned doing chores. Sometimes children will forego a special treat offered by their parents and ask them to put the money in the mite box instead. The important part of the lesson is that children learn the value of sacrifice. Their sacrifices become a river of hope for others.
Each child turns in their mite box (or a check for the amount they saved) and their donation becomes part of a flow of money that travels from the classroom teacher, to the DRE and then to the Arlington Mission office. As more children, schools, and religious education programs participate, the river of hope represented by these mite boxes grows and moves from Arlington to the MCA national headquarters and then on to Rome and the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, which makes grants to Catholic mission projects that directly benefit children. Some examples include rescuing children from human trafficking in India, building a kindergarten in Eritrea, and running a food program for school children in Kenya.