by Marie Elena Giossi
Over 500 boys and girls from Brooklyn and Queens came together to pray the rosary with retired Auxiliary Bishop Guy Sansaricq at St. James Cathedral-Basilica, Downtown Brooklyn, on Wednesday morning, Oct. 9.
“You may be asking yourself ‘Why, why have you brought me here,’” Bishop Sansaricq said to the children. “We are here because the bishop (Nicholas DiMarzio) wants to highlight the importance of praying together and of praying the rosary.”
The diocesan Office of the Superintendent-Catholic School Support Services coordinates the Rosary Rally each year during the month of October, which is dedicated to Mary and the holy rosary. Students attending diocesan elementary schools assemble in the cathedral-basilica and in their own local churches for a universal recitation of the rosary.
“Children gather together to recall and mediate on significant events in the lives of Jesus and Mary, to recite the simple prayers that compose the recitation of the Rosary, while offering prayer for themselves and others,” said Barbara McArdle, assistant superintendent for principal professional development in the diocesan Catholic Schools’ Office, who organized the event.
Joining Bishop Sansaricq at the cathedral-basilica were students and teachers from Queen of All Saints School, Fort Greene; St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Academy, Crown Heights; Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Academy, Flushing; St. Gregory the Great Catholic Academy, Flatbush; St. Adalbert School, Elmhurst; Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Sunset Park; and St. Bernard School, Mill Basin.
Holding black rosary beads, he led youngsters in the recitation of the Glorious Mysteries for the intentions of an increase in vocations and respect for every human life. Student lectors read the corresponding Scripture passage for each mystery.
In unison with the bishop, Carmen Rojas, an eighth grader from Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Academy, moved her fingers along a string of light pink beads that belonged to her grandmother.
Her classmate, Kevin Fernandez, also followed along using a black and white rosary given to him by his late Uncle Perico. “He was the one who actually taught me how to pray the rosary,” he said.
“The reason we pray the rosary is to follow Jesus’ life through Mary’s eyes,” Fernandez shared. “It’s a way to see how Jesus handled his life.”
“The rosary is a simple prayer,” the bishop said in his homily. Its purpose, he explained, is “to help us meditate on the high points of the life of Jesus.”
No Speeches Necessary
Sometimes when people pray, the bishop said, they think they have to do a lot of talking. But that isn’t the case with the rosary.
“It’s a beautiful prayer where you do not make a speech to God, but you ponder on the mystery of God,” he said. “You open your mind and let the Spirit inspire you.”
When saying the rosary, the bishop told children it is impossible to focus on the words of the Hail Mary every single time. Rather, the repetitive prayers serve as a background for each meditation. And while their meditations are private, the bishop affirmed that it is a good thing to pray with others.
“When you’re a Catholic, you’re not an isolated individual,” he said. “We are as one body, and we must pray together.”
Among the intentions for which he suggested they pray were peace in the world and vocations. He urged the children to seriously consider dedicating their lives in service to God and His Church as priests, religious brothers and religious sisters.
Bishop Sansaricq closed the prayer service by encouraging the students to carry their rosary beads in their pockets and pray the rosary every day – just as he does.
“I was honored to say the rosary with you,” he said, “and I hope you will always love to say the rosary.”
Chiara Maldonado, a seventh grader from Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Sunset Park, enjoyed the rosary rally. She’s never prayed with a bishop before and thought the whole experience “was cool.”
A few pews away, Jayla Rose, an eighth grader at Queen of All Saints was proud to represent her school at the rosary rally for the second year in a row.
Every child and teacher had the opportunity to shake hands with the bishop as they left church and returned to the yellow buses that would bring them back to their respective schools.
McArdle hoped that this opportunity to come together with the bishop and their peers would inspire students “to continue this practice in their daily lives.”
Praying the rosary is already a familiar practice for many students, including Charlie McFadden, a sixth grader at St. Adalbert School. When he recites the rosary, he shared that he likes to go into a quiet room with no distractions so he can focus his full attention on his prayers.
[hr]Contributing to this story was Antonina Zielinska.[hr]