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Villa Duchesne mothers gathered to pray the Rosary during the Mothers’ Rosary gathering March 20 at Villa Duchesne in Frontenac. The gatherings have been taking place for 30 years.
Villa Duchesne mothers gathered to pray the Rosary during the Mothers’ Rosary gathering March 20 at Villa Duchesne in Frontenac. The gatherings have been taking place for 30 years.
Photo Credit: Jacob Wiegand

Steadfast in prayer

The Mothers’ Rosary group at Villa Duchesne has found spiritual sustenance through prayer

As the bell signals the start of the day at Villa Duchesne, a group of mothers gather down the hallway in the chapel and lay their prayer intentions before the Blessed Mother.

Each Wednesday after school drop-off, the mothers stop in the chapel or outside near the grotto to pray the Rosary for their children, their families, teachers and the school community. The Mothers’ Rosary has been a weekly tradition at Villa Duchesne for the past three decades.

Holly DiPasco, a parishioner at Ste. Genevieve du Bois in Warson Woods, prayed the Rosary with other Villa Duchesne mothers including Katie Schwaneke, left, a parishioner at St. Clement of Rome, during the Mothers’ Rosary gathering April 3 at Villa Duchesne in Frontenac.
Photo Credits: Jacob Wiegand
The prayer time has been meaningful to Becky Crump, who joined the group three years ago, when her daughter was a freshman. Since then, she’s joined a parent Bible study group at the school, has become more involved in her parish, Our Lady of the Pillar in Creve Coeur, and has deepened her prayer life at home with her family.

“It’s a wonderful place where you feel open and so comfortable talking about something you feel passionately about,” she said. “For me, it’s all come from this Rosary. And I feel like that’s the graces of Mary.”

Paula Capps and her sister-in-law Mary Jo Sauer started the prayer group in 1994, gathering mothers of students in the school’s chapel one morning a week to pray the Rosary for the intentions of their children and the school community. The group soon became known as the Mothers’ Rosary.

Capps later began writing reflections on the mysteries of the Rosary to help mothers focus their intentions on the Blessed Mother’s intercession. She would often write them on First Saturdays, reflecting on how the mysteries related to her life as a wife and mother of eight children. Capps expanded the meditations to include the Stations of the Cross and the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows of Mary and eventually published those in a book, which is available on her website, themothersrosary.com.

Capps was inspired to start the prayer group following a conversation with her husband, who was encouraged by a priest during confession to pray a family Rosary every night. The couple was unsure how they’d manage that with small children in tow. But looking back on the experience, she said it was that prompting that inspired her to help start the group at Villa Duchesne.

“I wanted to make it really special for moms, so I would do these meditations to be geared toward mothers praying for the spiritual and physical safety of our children,” she said. “Our kids face so many challenges these days, and they need our prayer.” As parents, “you realize you can’t do this by yourself. The Blessed Mother is amazing and she will never fail us.”

The Rosary and the accompanying meditations offer participants an opportunity to pray without feeling like they have to create something on their own, Capps said. “The Rosary sometimes can be difficult to pray, and people can be surprised when I say that,” she said. “The prayers are based in scripture, but the meditations get you thinking about the Lord and the Blessed Mother’s life.”

The Mothers’ Rosary falls under the umbrella of Villa Duchesne’s Parents of the Heart group, which promotes the spiritual mission of the school. Parents also organize Bible studies in the spring and fall,

Villa Duchesne mother Kate Bauer prayed the Rosary with other Villa Duchesne mothers during the Mothers’ Rosary gathering March 20.
Photo Credits: Jacob Wiegand
eucharistic adoration for the school community throughout the year, evenings of reflection and service outreach.

Over the years, the Mothers’ Rosary has grown in size. Their gatherings temporarily came to a halt in 2020 during the pandemic, the same year Capps’ daughter, Mary Therese, graduated from Villa Duchesne. Because the school limited who could enter the building at the time, some of the mothers began meeting outside in the grotto on campus in the fall of 2020 to continue their prayers.

Molly Kraeger was among those who had gathered in the grotto. She already had taken on leadership of the group a few years prior and knew they needed to keep up their prayers during what was a difficult time for so many. It turned out to be a blessing, she said, because the group became more visible to parents as they’d drop off their children for school.

“It was a beautiful moment for evangelization, for everyone to see that,” said Kraeger, whose twin daughters Elizabeth and Cecilia graduated in 2023 and has another daughter, Grace, who currently is a junior. The group’s prayers also sustained Kraeger after her husband, Rob, unexpectedly died toward the end of 2019.

“We focus the prayers on others, and in my grief, being with a group who loves you, I realized that we all need prayer,” she said. “The most meaningful prayers are the ones that come from the heart, and that has helped me tremendously.”

“We’re praying for everyone in the school community and for everyone who interacts with our children every single day — they’re here longer than they’re at home” on a typical school day, Holly DiPasco said. “It’s so great to be involved in the school like this, but to be involved in praying for the school — we’re a Catholic school — it’s important. Prayer should be at the heart.”

Prayer groups may come and go, but there’s something timeless and special about praying the Rosary, Capps said. “If you have the Rosary, it doesn’t matter who is leading it,” she said. “It’s like this treasured family recipe that has been passed down from generation to generation, because you know it works. The Rosary has that steadfastness about it.”

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