A Novena of Masses for You and 
Your Youth as They Go 
Back to School  
"Teach me knowledge and good judgment, for I trust your commands."
- Psalm 119:66

Whether you are a parent, teacher, homeschooling family, or student, the school year is about to begin. For some it has already begun. It is a time that can be filled with frenzied back to school shopping, excitement, stress, anxiety and uncertainty. 

At this time of the year, it is wise and prudent to consider the realities that face our young people, our sons and daughters, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and our godchildren.

While it's never easy to be a tween, teen or young adult, today it is even more difficult. The temptations and struggles to be faced and conquered are unprecedented and encountered by no former generation. Various polls tell us that our young people list among their main struggles the following:
  • Depression
  • Drugs and alcohol
  • Sex and sexual pressure (think "sexting", pornography, and gender confusion)
  • Media influences 
  • The need to be popular
  • Violence and fear of their peers including bullying
  • Personal image worries, poor self-concept, lack of confidence

For many, these pressures converge upon them like a tsunami and they often succumb to temptations simply to "fit in" or to be liked, to be popular and invited to parties, or to hold on to a boyfriend or girl friend. The on-going interior battle combined with the cultural and environmental pull can lead to a variety of coping mechanisms, none of which are healthy.

In fact, in extreme cases, young people inflict physical injury upon themselves like cutting and self-mutilation, or other forms of bodily harm, in a misguided and macabre effort to "eliminate" the interior pressure and emotion.

Perhaps you know a young person who has struggled with these issues and sought to resolve them in unhealthy ways. I pray not, but it wouldn't be surprising.

Now here's the good news. There is hope! Our children need not be victims of the peer pressures and moral problems imposed by our culture today. Our children need not lose their sense of well-being, resolve, and faith. They need not be swallowed up in the quagmire of unhealthy social and cultural influences.

What is required? Here are the top five:
  • Your good example
  • Spending time with them one-on-one
  • Being aware of their friends and social activities
  • Watching out for any changes (gradual or radical) in their behavior, language, attitude

We can't help you with the first four requirements in this list, but we can certainly help you with the last.

And, we want to.

At the beginning of this school season, Reverend Father John Felix Opio, a priest of the Archdiocese of Gulu, Uganda, is going to offer a Novena of Masses for your young people and your special intentions beginning on August 27, the Feast of St. Monica.  .
Father Opio was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Gulu on Sept 24th, 1988 and was appointed and served as secretary to Bishop Martin Luluga 1988-1991. He then joined Makerere University to study education, 1991-1992 and was a lecturer in Philosophy at Alokolum National Major Seminary from 1992-1995. He studied at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA) 1995-1999. He served as Executive Director of Caritas-Gulu from 1999-2007 and is currently chaplain of Archbishop Flynn Secondary School. He is a prayerful and hard-working priest.
We are going to include you, too, that God would give you the wisdom you need to guide your son or daughter, grandson or granddaughter, niece or nephew, godson or goddaughter - and the actual grace necessary to meet the challenges and struggles this school year may present. 

If you are a teacher, catechist, or school administrator, know that we will be praying for you as well. We will be asking Our Lord to give you a supernatural vision and fortitude to bring the presence of Christ to your classroom in every way you can.

It is fitting that this special  Novena of Masses will begin on August 27th , the Feast of St. Monica, who interceded for many years for her son, St. Augustine, to come into the fullness of who God created him to be. 

To make your special intention for this Novena of Masses and to enroll your children, just  click here . We invite you to join us in prayer as we lift up your children to the Heavenly Throne.

Let's give our children the start they really need at the beginning of this school year - the spiritual protection and graces that come through the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. In this way, we can do much to safeguard them, encourage them, lead them, and guide them.

These are unprecedented times and unprecedented times require unprecedented grace. Let's see what we can do together!
May God bless you and may the abundant life of Jesus Christ be yours.

In His Service and with gratitude,

Johnnette Benkovic Williams
Founder and President


Lord God,
 At the beginning of this year teach us to
 be your hands and feet where we are,
 At the beginning of this year teach us to
 love as you love us,
 At the beginning of this year teach us to
 pray for those in need
So that You are honored and glorified.


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Women of Grace® seeks to transform the world one woman at a time by affirming women in their dignity and vocation as daughters of God and in their gift of authentic femininity™ through ongoing spiritual formation.

The vision of Women of Grace® is a civilization and culture imbued with the spirit of the Gospel renewed, revitalized, and healed 
through the love of God.

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