Dune Staniszewski’s lime-green backpack received a special prayer on Sunday.


Staniszewski’s backpack and dozens of others were blessed at St. John’s United Methodist Church with the hope that the children who carry them have a successful school year. Each child also received a tag to put on their backpack declaring it had been blessed.


St. John’s has held a Blessing of the Backpacks for several years now, and this was the second year the entire worship service was dedicated to the congregation’s young children. They served as greeters and ushers, and delivered scripture readings.


The Rev. Dr. George Howle recognized not only the children in the congregation on Sunday, but also the teachers in their lives – their parents, school teachers and God.


He told the children that their parents taught them how to talk, how to walk and how to love.


“When I got into trouble, my parents loved me anyway; and no matter where I went, I could always come back home,” Howle said.


School teachers instruct children on how to take turns, he said, and God teaches children according to his word in the Holy Bible.


Howle cited the scripture in which the disciples turned away children from visiting with Jesus.


But, Jesus called the children to him, saying, “‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it,’” Howle said.


“Jesus loves me,” Staniszewski said when asked why the Blessing of the Backpacks was important.


Mac Massie prayed that he and the church’s school-age children be excited to see old friends, make new ones and be excited to meet their teachers.


Staniszewski, 5, starts kindergarten at St. Mary Help of Christians Catholic School today. He hopes to learn how to do art and said his favorite things to draw are cards and hamsters. But, he doesn’t have a hamster ... yet.


“The deal is, if he learns how to spell his last name, his aunt told him he could have a hamster,” said Staniszewki’s father.