Mothers gather to pray for students Moms in Touch links women in support of schools, children

February 06, 1997|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

Every Tuesday morning, eight women -- unrelated and yet sharing a bond -- sit in the living room of Ann Hessey's North Cape Arthur home and pray.

They pray for their children, their children's teachers and the rest of the staff at Severna Park and Chesapeake Bay middle schools.

They are members of Moms In Touch International, a nonprofit ministry based in Poway, Calif., that links mothers who believe that prayer makes a difference.

"It's great knowing that other moms are praying with me," said Hessey, mother of sixth-grader Elisabeth and coordinator of the Severna Park group. "As moms go through the same things that I go through, it's grateful to know that there is support."

The concept of praying together is spreading throughout the county and the state, which has 160 such groups. The mother of a child at St. Jane Frances Roman Catholic School in Riviera Beach and another of a student at Oak Hill Elementary School in Severna Park are trying to start similar groups.

About 32,000 chapters have been formed in the United States and around the world, said Fern Nichols, founder and president of Moms In Touch International. Every state has a group, and there are representatives in 72 foreign countries, she said.

Nichols started the organization in 1984, when her two sons, Tyrone, 15, and Troy, 13, entered junior high school in Abbotsford, British Columbia.

After years of volunteering at the boys' elementary school and chaperoning their field trips, she felt lost when the school didn't need her help so much, she said.

"I was standing in the kitchen, and I thought, 'There's got to be one mom in the public school who could pray with me,' " Nichols said. "I called her up on the phone, and she thought of some other moms, and that was our humble beginning."

Like most of the mothers who gathered at Hessey's home Tuesday morning, Theresa Bucalo said she heard about the Moms In Touch International when the group was on Dr. James Dobson's "Focus on the Family" radio program on a local religious station in September.

"What appealed to me was the fact that a group of moms were banding together to pray," said Bucalo, whose daughter, Maria, is an eighth-grader at Chesapeake Bay Middle School. "When you have two mothers in a room, you can feel the power of prayer growing stronger."

Letitia Cornish, whose daughter, Tanika, is an eighth-grader at Severna Park Middle School, said simply: "I believe that there's power in unity."

The mothers usually begin their sessions singing hymns, then make silent confessions and give thanks. Then they break into smaller groups to pray for the children, the teachers and the schools.

Many of the mothers agreed that praying for their middle-school-age children is especially important because of the obstacles the youths face. A new school, scheduling changes and peer pressure make life a challenge at that age, Hessey said.

"They have to fight and they have choices to make," she said. "We want them to choose the right thing to do."

Last Christmas, the mothers baked cookies and breads for the staff at Severna Park Middle School.

"We recognize that it's a hard job, and we like to keep them in our prayers," Bucalo said. "It's [a sign of] our appreciation."

Some mothers said they try not to miss a meeting even though they have errands and younger children to care for.

"We know it's not easy, but we are coming together and taking time out of our schedules to pray," said Jane Schlegel, whose daughter, Lauren, is a sixth-grader at Severna Park Middle School. "It's a real encouragement for [the children] as they walk out our doors."

Pub Date: 2/06/97

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