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  • Writer's pictureGraceful Willow Learning

Faithful Connections: A Catholic Pen Pal Adventure for 16-Year-Olds

Activity for 16 year olds

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have a friend you have never met? Well, there is a way to do this, and if you follow all safety measures, you will be in for a wonderful journey.

Having a pen pal can be a wonderful experience: having someone to talk to, someone who can read your letters and reply to you through mail. This helps us practice patience with the so called "snail mail" system, friendship, tolerance, compassion, and empathy in the realm of virtue development. It promotes penmanship, eloquence with words, improvement in grammar and spelling, among other reading and writing skills. Pen pal letter writing is also very good for us Catholics to practice our missionary life, enrich others and ourselves with a cultural exchange, understanding the importance of intentional relationships, etc.

At the age of 16, in the midst of teenage chaos, having a friend/pen pal from a different region can foster a sense of connection and belonging that teenagers long for. And especially at this age, where a person can feel somewhat removed from society and may have an egocentric view, corresponding with someone else in another region, outside of their immediate community, will develop empathy and compassion -depending on what all they talk about on their letters.

It is important to note that for your kids to have a pen pal, you will have to find them one. I recommend asking in catholic groups on facebook, ask a friend or relative who lives overseas to contact another teen's parents to see if they would be interested in participating, or searching on Google for different pen pal ministries (there are even ones for being a prisoner's pen pal). Remember, you are choosing someone for your kid to establish a relationship with, so this activity may need to be monitored or closely supervised to avoid sharing personally identifiable information.

The sole act of communicating with someone you don't know, can open a world of prayer that they never knew existed: praying for someone you don't know but love like a friend. Praying for their intentions, their safety, health, families, etc. Praying for someone other than our immediate community, family and/or ourselves.

If your pen pal is from a very different culture, the sharing of your different lifestyles promotes mutual respect and appreciation of how others live their lives in a completely different way, even though we are all Catholics. It is all about building bridges and breaking barriers.

To do this, all you will need is a person who does not belong to your community, but wants to participate, paper, pens, envelopes, stamps, and access to a mail box or post office to correspond every so often.

And it will be a beautiful experience, especially during the different feasts and celebrations like St. Valentine's Day, Easter, Pentecost, and Christmas, among others.

As you embark on this journey of pen pal connections with your 16-year-old, may the bonds formed through handwritten letters become threads of faith, compassion, and understanding. This activity not only enriches the lives of your children but also presents an opportunity for shared growth within your family. As you encourage intentional relationships, prayerful connections, and cultural exchange, remember that you are not only building bridges but breaking barriers within the vast community of believers. May the act of reaching out beyond immediate circles be a testament to the universal love and unity we share as Catholics. May God bless your family abundantly on this heartfelt adventure of friendship and faith.

Let's do what we are called to do and shine the light of Jesus onto others!

God Bless,

Maria Ignacia

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