New youth ministry program looks to ignite habit of prayer

A new program called Daybreak hopes to ignite a habit of prayer in public and private high schools by using intentional, specific prayer.

The idea for Daybreak stems from St. Anselm Parish's youth minister Joe Dobrynski's time at Benedictine College and as a FOCUS missionary, where all activities began with prayer. Daybreak has been involved in numerous schools including Parkway South and West high schools, DeSmet Jesuit High School and Christian Brothers College High School.

"The point of Daybreak is to gather you as men, as brothers, not only to pray with one another, but to actually pray for one another and your school," Dobrynski said to about 40 students at CBC on Oct. 18. The CBC students were gathered as part of a weekly program called "Brothers in Prayer." Senior Garrison Krotz invited Dobrynski to present, but Daybreak has largely relied on social media to reach out to students at schools, especially through the Twitter handle @Anselm_YG.

Daybreak begins with the Canticle of Zechariah, from where the program gets its name: "In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us" (Luke 1:78-79). The canticle is then followed by a prayer and intentions for the school. CBC students shared intentions such as building a better school community. Students then offer personal prayer requests in small groups. When introducing the small groups, Dobrynski challenged the students to be authentic and specific with their intentions.

"If prayer becomes so general that we don't even know what we're praying about, then I think we lose some of the momentum and the power (of prayer)," Dobrynski said. The Daybreak program champions specific prayer. He hopes this style of prayer will teach students how to pray more effectively and serve as a foundation for building a lifestyle of prayer.

"We have a lot of catechized and sacramentalized Catholics, but we don't have evangelized Catholics," Dobrynski said. Daybreak tries to evangelize by reintroducing prayer and the Gospels to those who may already be catechized Catholics.

The program also aims to increase the connection between school and parish life. Though Dobrynski hopes some students choose to come to St. Anselm Parish's youth group, he is most focused on students seizing the religious opportunities presented to them now in high school, no matter the location.

"Missionary work, being missionary, is the central identity of the Church, it's who she is, and Pope Francis is clearly saying: 'Get your hands dirty, roll up your sleeves and get to work,'" Dobrynski said. "And that's what I'm trying to do."

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