It’s always a good plan to start a Monday morning filled with joy. Even better when it’s with the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary.
Upper-grade students at Holy Rosary School in Warrenton last year began a tradition of leading the Rosary on Mondays at 8 a.m. at the parish church. The Rosary and eucharistic adoration take the place of morning Mass, to accommodate the schedule of the parish’s only resident priest, pastor Father Tom Vordtriede.
Students said it’s been a great way to start their week at the Catholic elementary school. “It’s a chance to be closer to God,” said eighth-grader Reece Hart. “It’s great, because we get to show how much we can help our own church community.”
Students in grades fifth through eighth participate in the weekly devotion, with sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders taking turns leading the prayers. The school week also ends with Mass celebrated on Friday mornings.
Holy Rosary School is in the midst of developing a school improvement plan, and several teachers serving on an already-existing Catholic identity committee were discussing how to further enhance spirituality at the school. When Father Vordtriede arrived in October of 2020, the plan was hatched to offer a weekly student-led Rosary on Monday mornings, in order to give him one day off from his responsibilities at the parish.
“There’s a thirst for helping our children to grow in their devotional practice within the Catholic faith,” said principal Lori Racine. “It’s a part of their life here at school.”
Students have incorporated the Rosary in other ways, too. Eighth-graders last year wrote a patriotic-themed Rosary, including writing special prayers and finding accompanying Bible verses. The Rosary is incorporated into other feasts and special occasions, too. This year, for the feast of the Our Lady of the Rosary (Oct. 7) the school plans to hold an all-day celebration of the Rosary, including learning how to make rosaries. Students also lead the Rosary at the school’s annual May Crowning.
Eighth-grader Kevin McDowell, who taught himself how to make rosaries using paracord, is planning to teach his classmates how to make them. Asked where he learned the technique, Kevin replied: “YouTube.”
“We want them to be able to pray (the Rosary) on their own and to make it a holy habit,” said eighth-grade teacher Christina Harisberger. “By having them lead it, it’s two-fold: They get up and they lead it, and that’s hard. And it makes them more confident and more willing to participate in our parish activities. We want our children, when they graduate from eighth grade, to keep coming back and to know that it’s family and a home.”
Seventh-grader Destanie Sundays described her first time leading the Rosary as being “nervous,” but added: “I just went with the flow and said, ‘it’s going to be awesome.’” She said this made the experience of standing in front of her classmates not too bad at all.
Aiden Hockensmith, also a seventh-grader, described the experience as “fun,” and something he’s been wanting to do. “I go to Mass every Sunday, and I pray every night and every morning and before meals.”