A Listening Session for Teens

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The purpose of this session is to allow young people in a school or parish to gather in a safe and trusting place to voice their feelings, thoughts, and concerns regarding a natural disaster or tragedy.
Purpose
The purpose of this session is to allow young people in a school or parish to gather in a safe and trusting place to voice their feelings, thoughts, and concerns regarding a natural disaster or tragedy.

Materials Needed
a 3-by-5-inch index card for each young person
a pencil for each young person
prayer materials (Select one of the "Options for Ritual Actions" below.)
a comfortable and accessible gathering space
refreshments (optional)

Setting the Environment

The gathering space should provide an atmosphere of comfort, safety, and trust. Invite the young people and adults to sit in a circle, either on chairs or on the floor so that they are all at the same eye level.

The Role of the Adult Facilitator

The facilitator's role is to allow for an open discussion in which all who would like to share will be given the opportunity to do so, with respect to the time allotted for the session. She or he introduces the purpose of the session and the guidelines for the discussion.

PROCEDURE
Welcome
Begin the session by stating the purpose for gathering (see the section "Purpose" above). Introduce the facilitator and explain her or his role. Then introduce everyone else who is present.

Call to Prayer

Leader: We gather in the presence of God. May God hear our prayer and strengthen all people.
All: Lord, bring us hope and understanding that our vision may be clear and our minds may be open.

Gathering Song
See the "Suggested Music Selections" below.

Greeting
Leader: In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
All: Amen.
Leader: The Lord be with you.
All: And also with you.

Opening Prayer
Leader: God, our Creator, we ask you to give us hope in the midst of discouragement, perseverance in our frustration, and continuous reminders of your love throughout this difficult time. May we be of support to one another, always attentive and caring.
We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord.
All: Amen.

Introduction of Procedures and Discussion Guidelines

Share with the group the guidelines for the discussion. Distribute the 3-by-5-inch cards and the pencils. Explain that using an "I statement" will allow each participant to focus on feelings and thoughts. Invite the young people to write down the following sentence, leaving a blank space after each phrase: "I feel ____________ when ____________ because __________."

Give the young people time to write down their feelings (first blank), the situations that are causing the feelings (second blank), and the reason for their feelings about the situation (third blank). Make sure that they do not put their name on the cards.

Collect all of the cards and shuffle them. Ask each young person to choose one card. Once all young people have selected a card, ask for a volunteer to read the card she or he has chosen. Provide ample time for discussion and sharing of additional thoughts and feelings after each card is read. Proceed in a circle until each card has been read and discussed.

Summary of the Discussion

After all the cards have been read and discussed, conduct a brief summation of what has been heard. Allow everyone the opportunity to voice what they heard--one piece of information at a time. Suggest that they use the phrase, "Tonight I heard . . ." Write each comment on newsprint.

Discuss what the group should do as a next step. The group may decide to meet again to revisit feelings and the process of healing, or they may brainstorm concrete, proactive ways to assist the relief efforts.

Closing Prayer

Read 2 Corinthians 4:5-12 and respond with Psalm 91. Then sing a song (see "Suggested Music Selections" below).
Perform ritual actions. (Select one of the "Options for Ritual Actions" below.)
Lead the following intercessions:
Leader: Let us pray. Gracious and merciful God, hear the prayers of your people as we come before you with humble hearts.
Lector 1: Please respond, "Lord, help us to trust in you. "
In these dark moments of grief, pain, anger, sadness, disappointment, frustration, we pray . . .

When we struggle to move on toward greater growth but find it difficult to let go of the past, we pray . . .

As we seek to find our way to truth, to wholeness, to better loving others, we pray . . .

Lector 2: Please respond, "Draw near, O God."

For all victims of this tragedy, we pray . . .

For all in authority, that they may have the wisdom and strength to make difficult decisions, we pray . . .

For the parish and school communities dealing with the aftermath of this tragedy, we pray that they may know your comfort and love and, we pray . . .

Leader: We make our prayer through Christ, our Lord.

All: Amen.

Leader: God who dwells within, God who is with us in good times and in bad, we turn our hearts again to you, and we proclaim:

All: Nothing can come between us and your love for us, even if we are troubled, worried, or being persecuted; or lacking food or clothes; or being threatened or even attacked. We can grow through difficult times because of this power of your love at work in our lives.

Leader: For we are certain of this: neither death nor life nor angel nor principality, nothing that exists, nothing still to come, not any power, no height or depth, nor any created thing can come between us and your love, which has been made visible through Jesus. And so we lean on you, and we offer you our thanks and praise as we make our prayer through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

All
: Amen.

Song of Sending Forth
See "Suggested Music Selections" below.

Suggested Music Selections
"Canticle of the Turning " Rory Cooney, Gather Comprehensive (Chicago: GIA Publications, 1994), p. 556.
"Christ, Be Beside Me," Laura Wasson, Today's Missal Music Issue (Portland, OR: Oregon Catholic Press, 2002), p. 401.
"Christ, Be Our Light," Bernadette Farrell, Today's Missal Music Issue (Portland, OR: Oregon Catholic Press, 2002), p. 560.
"City of God," Dan Schutte, Today's Missal Music Issue (Portland, OR: Oregon Catholic Press, 2002), p. 369.
"Confitemini Domino/Come and Fill," Jacques Berthier/Taizé Community, Gather Comprehensive (Chicago: GIA Publications, 1994), p. 570.
"Gather Us In," Marty Haugen, Gather Comprehensive (Chicago: GIA Publications, 1994), p. 744.
"God of Day and God of Darkness," Marty Haugen, Gather Comprehensive (Chicago: GIA Publications, 1994), p. 761.
"Here I Am," Tom Booth, Today's Missal Music Issue (Portland, OR: Oregon Catholic Press, 2002), p. 443.
"How Can I Keep from Singing?" a Quaker hymn, Gather Comprehensive (Chicago: GIA Publications, 1994), p. 603.
"I (We) Need You to Listen," Marty Haugen, Gather Comprehensive (Chicago: GIA Publications, 1994), p. 582.
"Jesus, Heal Us," David Haas, Gather Comprehensive (Chicago: GIA Publications, 1994), p. 875.
"Lead Me, Lord," John D. Becker, Today's Missal Music Issue (Portland, OR: Oregon Catholic Press, 2002), p. 542.
"Let There Be Peace on Earth," Sy Miller and Jill Jackson, Today's Missal Music Issue (Portland, OR: Oregon Catholic Press, 2002), p. 413.
"Psalm 63: My Soul Is Thirsting," Steve Angrisano, Today's Missal Music Issue (Portland, OR: Oregon Catholic Press, 2002), p. 762.
"O God, Hear Us," Bob Hurd, Today's Missal Music Issue (Portland, OR: Oregon Catholic Press, 2002), p. 985.
"Psalm 91: On Eagle's Wings," Michael Joncas, Gather Comprehensive (Chicago: GIA Publications, 1994), p. 611.
"Psalm 25: To You, O Lord," Scott Soper, Today's Missal Music Issue (Portland, OR: Oregon Catholic Press, 2002), p. 736.
"Prayer for Peace," David Haas, Gather Comprehensive (Chicago: GIA Publications, 1994), p. 729.
"Remember Your Love," D. Ducote, G. Daigle, and M. Balhoff, Today's Missal Music Issue (Portland, OR: Oregon Catholic Press, 2002), p. 630.
"Turn to Me," John Foley, SJ, Today's Missal Music Issue (Portland, OR: Oregon Catholic Press, 2002), p. 626.
"Voices That Challenge," David Haas, Gather Comprehensive (Chicago: GIA Publications, 1994), p.721.
"We Are Called," David Haas, Gather Comprehensive (Chicago: GIA Publications, 1994), p. 718.
"With the Lord," Michael Joncas, Today's Missal Music Issue (Portland, OR: Oregon Catholic Press, 2002), p. 631.
"You Are Mine," David Haas, Gather Comprehensive (Chicago: GIA Publications, 1994), p. 649.

acknowledgments

Maureen P. Provencher is the director for ministry for youth, Saint Mary's Parish, Chelmsford, Massachusetts, in the Archdiocese of Boston. Used with permission.

Published August 30, 2005.