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Virtual prayer, support reassures teen

[Editor’s note: Blog post author Ozlynne Tharp is a volunteer with the Providence Teen Volunteer ministry.]

Ozlynne Tharp

Quarantine has been tough on all of us the past couple of months. Activities such as going to church, school or even to the store have become restricted and meeting up with other people is greatly discouraged. At first the social distancing was difficult for me spirit-wise, because I couldn’t go to church and while I did devotions on my own, it just didn’t feel the same as talking to others about our beliefs and learning something new together. 

Virtual gathering

Then Sister Joni Luna, who leads the Providence Teen Volunteers, texted me asking if I would be willing to come onto Discord and pray with the rest of the teen ministry for a week. I joined Discord, an app used to allow chatting. At first it was a bit awkward since I hardly knew anyone. But I eventually felt at home with the group due to how welcoming and inclusive everyone was. At the end of the week, we all agreed upon continuing our Discord meetings every week. And the rest has been history. 

Every night at 9 p.m. we all join the chat. We start by sharing how we come and who or what we would like to pray for. Sometimes we share our levels of stress and frustration with schoolwork or with people not understanding the concept of social distancing. Other days we share how productive and relaxed we’ve been. It’s a great experience to listen to and empathize with each other. Then one of us reads one of the mysteries and we say one decade of the rosary together. We finish the meeting by sharing a God moment we’ve experienced in the past 24 hours, a moment when we’ve felt a calm and peaceful presence. Usually we share moments with our family, or moments that made us realize something important. We can all learn from our own and each other’s God moments. Then we leave wishing each other a good night. 

Blog post author Ozlynne Tharp visits with Sister Carole Fedders during a teen volunteer day prior to social distancing.

Sharing worries

One problem I am having with the current quarantine situation is that my parents have to go back to work. This annoys me. I don’t think working in a factory to make air bags is vital. But their employer said anyone who doesn’t show up has voluntarily resigned, which translates to being fired. Sure, they are required to wear masks and they’re going to be apart, but they don’t even take the temperatures before they let people in! On top of that, the company told everyone that they won’t have vacation this year because they “already had it during quarantine.” I think this is completely ridiculous. Social distancing should not count as vacation because it was not my parents’ fault that they couldn’t go to work! I mentioned this at one of the Discord meetings and was relieved that many agreed that things are opening too fast and that we are not being careful for the sake of money. 

Something good

The Discord meetings have been astonishing. After the meeting is over every night, I feel refreshed and calm. You can talk about how you’re feeling, and everyone listens and shares their own experiences as well. We even hang out on the weekends and play games because we enjoy talking to each other. Praying the rosary every night also gives a sense of accomplishment. It’s like I’ve just done something great for the world, something that can help it. I am sincerely grateful to Sister Joni for putting together this group. And I hope that others may think of doing the same. 

Learn more about Providence Teen Volunteer Ministry at TeenVolunteer.SistersofProvidence.org

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Ozlynne Tharp

Ozlynne Tharp is a 15-year-old freshman at Terre Haute South High School. She enjoys singing, performing in shows, and quieter activities as well, such as reading and drawing.

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  1. S. Connie Kramer on May 22, 2020 at 10:46 am

    What an uplifting blog. Thanks to Ozlynne and Sister Joni for their effort to encourage all of us to come together through technology.

  2. S. Mary Montgomery on May 22, 2020 at 12:28 pm

    Thank you, Ozlynne, for your very meaningful reflection of connecting, sharing and praying with Sister Joni and Providence Teen Ministry volunteers. I’m happy you are receiving gifts as well as sharing your gifts. I am imagine you and your family and others are benefiting from you doing this…as you mentioned, it’s helping the world! I’m praying with you in my heart.

    • Donna Butler on May 26, 2020 at 10:57 pm

      Thank you, Oxlynne, for having the courage to enter into this experience that turned out to be so rewarding. What a blessing each of you is for one another during this difficult time.
      Joni, what a wonderful idea!

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