Our youth minister spoke to me about doing this at our parish last year. It’s a tradition about six years old at St Benedict Parish in Broken Bow, Oklahoma. The Eastern Oklahoma Catholic has a nice feature on it.
Father Joe Townsend, pastor:
“For me, it’s good to pray for what my people are praying for. It’s like I’m saying ‘I hear you.’”
It’s one of those simple things a parish can provide, letting parents and teens know that their parish cares about their well-being. Father Townsend was well aware of one of the chief worries of parents of teens: their safety when away from home, especially when driving.
The blessing is usually held twice a year, at the beginning of the new year and at the beginning of the school year. Father Townsend figures he has blessed about 250 teen-agers.
Compared to other age groups, the numbers are not good:
According for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, car crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teenagers, accounting for 36 percent of all deaths in the 16-19 age group. Statistics also show that teens are four times more likely than any other age group to have an automobile accident.
Jacob Osborn, one of those blessed:
“Some people are not the best drivers in the world. It’s good that God and the angels are there with me.”
Each new driver was given a gift of a St. James cross. The cross is an ancient design of Spanish origin that was commonly carried by Christian pilgrims on spiritual journeys. Jacob said he will pin his cross to the sun visor in his car.