Students, staff at Dyersville high school launch prayer campaign

Hope to engage all Catholic schools in archdiocese

By Dan Russo

Witness Editor

DYERSVILLE — A group of students at Beckman Catholic High School in Dyersville have faith that prayer is more contagious and more powerful than any disease.

Seniors Tyler Salrin and Sean Hinerichsen joined forces with junior Annie Gulick and sophomores Stephanie Cortes and Gracie Hinerichsen to launch a prayer campaign asking God to bring an end to the coronavirus pandemic. They were aided in this effort by Marcel Kielkucki, principal at Beckman, and Father Tyler Raymond, associate pastor at the Spires of Faith Cluster.

“I enjoy opportunities to grow spiritually and it seemed like a unique challenge to draft a prayer for the students of the archdiocese to use,” said Salrin, in an Aug. 12 press release promoting the campaign.

The organizers hope to involve the 10,000 Catholic school students of the Archdiocese of Dubuque, along with faculty, staff, parents and anyone else who wants to take part. The idea is that a deluge of prayer to counter COVID-19 and heal those who are ill will flood heaven. Father Raymond, who serves as chaplain at the high school, helped the students learn the basics of writing a formal prayer. The words the team chose are simple and direct:

(L to r): Students Tyler Salrin, Sean Hinerichsen, Stephanie Cortes, Marcel Kielkucki, principal, Gracie Hinerichsen and Annie Gulick met at Beckman Catholic High School in Dyersville recently to discuss the prayerdemic campaign. Father Tyler Raymond, chaplain at the school, is seen attending virtually using the computer Gulick is holding. (Contributed photo)

“O God, Merciful Healer,

We pray for your help.

Keep us from illness,

heal those who are sick.

Protect those who care for others.

May your love be seen as we pray for those in need.

Through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.”

The students also worked with staff at the school to design a logo for the campaign and a hashtag (#PrayerdemicArchDBQ) for use on social media.

“It’s not a high school prayer,” explained Kielkucki. “We hope students at all grade levels can use it.”

Like many schools in the archdiocese, Beckman plans to offer in-person classes this year, with adjustments due to COVID-19.

“Everybody’s got to come together to make things work,” said the principal. “We have to be patient, flexible and understanding.

During an interview with The Witness, students involved in the prayer campaign said that virtual learning and the lack of social contact they experienced in the spring during shutdowns of in-person classes were challenging. They believe in-person learning is best and were looking forward to going back.

“I hope this year will be as normal as possible,” said Sean Hinerichsen.

Organizers are encouraging participants in the campaign to pray the prayer at 10 a.m. each day for the entire 2020-21 school year, or at times the schedules at each school allow. They emphasized that all are welcome to pray, regardless of whether they are affiliated with a school or not.

“We want to invite everyone,” said Gulick.

The prayer has already been sent to every school in the archdiocese. Joan Hinerichsen, communications director for Beckman, the Spires of Faith Cluster and St. Francis Xavier School, has been helping to promote the campaign. She believes its impact could be lasting.

“What I really like about this campaign is that it gives the students a positive memory to associate with the pandemic,” said the communications director. “If you take a previous tragedy like 9/11 most people could tell you where they were when they heard the plane hit the first tower and when both towers collapsed. Their positive association with that tragedy might be how the country came together despite our differences. My hope for this campaign is that students will first recall how they paused at 10 a.m. every day to pray with 10,000 plus other students to ask the Lord for an end to the pandemic, instead of remembering what was lost or canceled.”

Cover image: (l to r): Marcel Kielkucki, Beckman Catholic’s principal, poses with students Taylor Salrin, Sean Hinerichsen, Annie Gulick  and Father TylerRaymond.  (Photo by Dan Russo/Witness Editor)