MIDDLE VILLAGE — Giuliana Laspisa, an eighth grader at Our Lady of Hope Catholic Academy, sets aside time every day to pray the rosary, “because I’m making myself closer to Mary. And Mary is helping me get closer to Jesus.”
Giuliana’s devotion to the Blessed Mother is touching, given her youth, but it’s also part of a growing movement at Our Lady of Hope Church in Middle Village.
Giuliana is one of 47 members of The Children of Hope Rosary Club, who range from pre-K to eighth grade.
The group meets once a month to pray, and each meeting is dedicated to a Marian feast, such as Our Lady of the Rosary (October), Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal (November), and Our Lady of Guadalupe (December).
It’s not all reverent prayer. There is also time for fun. Younger members enjoy drawing pictures of the rosary. And older members hold bake sales to raise money for the club. At one sale, customers couldn’t get enough of the cupcakes shaped like rosary beads.
The club was founded in 2020 by two adults, Norma Apolo and Rosemarie Laspisa, Giuliana’s mom, who wanted to teach students the meaning of the rosary.
“I think the rosary is getting lost in this new generation,” Laspisa explained. “It was important for us to have as many kids dedicated to it as possible and to keep it going.”
For Apolo, the best thing about the club is the fact that it’s “led entirely by the children. We (adults) really don’t do anything.”
The members lead the prayers, talk about Marian feasts, and learn about different saints, some even presenting research papers written about them.
The club was formed during a fraught time. “This was during the pandemic and we thought it would help the children cope by bringing them closer to our Blessed Mother,” Laspisa recalled.
So they gathered a group of handful of kids next to the Shrine of Our Lady of Hope and taught them the rosary. Immediately, Apolo and Laspisa knew they had tapped into something. “You could see it on the children’s faces,” Laspisa recalled.
From that gathering, the club was born. The founders named it the Children of Hope Rosary Club for two reasons: the name of their church is Our Lady of Hope, and they wanted to convey that kids are the hope for a better future.
While bringing children closer to the Blessed Mother is the club’s mission, it isn’t the only benefit. “I think, too, it helps the children exercise leadership and public speaking skills,” Apolo explained.
Giuliana agreed. “Before I joined this club, I was shy to raise my hand and answer questions in my class or to say the rosary out loud. But as time went on, I became more self confident that I won’t mess up and I will do a great job,” she said.