Students from St. Joseph School in Stuart and St. Anastasia School in Fort Pierce, along with other school sin the Diocese of Palm Beach, joined in praying the rosary school-wide in support of the One Million Children Praying the Rosary sponsored by Aid to the Church in Need.
Aid to the Church in Need, under the guidance of the Holy Father, provides pastoral and humanitarian assistance to the persecuted Church around the world. For more than 67 years, generous donors and volunteers have reached out to the suffering, distressed and poor in more than 145 countries. Each year, the organization fulfills more than 5,000 projects through its spiritual and material aid programs.
According to the campaign’s mission statement, the goal of this prayer initiative was to “show how the trusting prayer of children can fly like an arrow straight to the heart of God.” The rosary was prayed for peace and unity within families, within the nation and the world.
The idea for the campaign came about in 2005 in Caracas, Venezuela when children were gathered to pray the rosary at a wayside shrine. Those gathered said to have strongly felt the presence of the Virgin Mary while the children prayed. The group likened this moment as the fulfilment of Saint Padre Pio’s promise, “When one million children pray the rosary, the world will change.”
In keeping with October’s theme as the month of the rosary, the campaign encouraged Catholic school students to pray the rosary with their classmates. The 18th is also the feast day of Saint Luke the Evangelist, who unfolds the story of Jesus’s childhood and, according to tradition, is said to have been close to Our Lady, the Mother of God.
Natalie Lafleur, middle school faith formation teacher at St. Joseph School, coordinated the entire student body in joining the rosary events of the day.
“The rosary is the most powerful prayer of peace,” said Lafleur. “It encourages us to pray as we live and live as we pray. There is no greater sound than the sound of children praying the rosary.”
In addition, the founder of Aid to the Church in Need, Father Werenfried van Straaten, deeply venerated Our Lady of Fatima. There, the Virgin Mary proclaimed to the visionary children, “Pray the rosary every day, in order to obtain peace for the world.” This inspired Lafleur to show her eighth-grade classes the Fatima movie that premiered earlier in 2020.
Linda Schildwachter, director of Campus Ministry at St. Anastasia School in Fort Pierce, collaborated with faculty to pre-record students praying the rosary as a way to unite them during this time of social distancing. Cathy Langel, IT coordinator, edited together a video of each class saying a different part of the rosary, with a special highlight of the eighth-grade class leading the school in the mysteries. This video was then shown through the school’s announcement video system on Oct. 18.
“When it was time for the rosary video to air, everyone stopped what they were doing to pray. It was a moment of reverence during a busy day,” said Schildwachter.
Schildwachter also mentioned that although it was disappointing not coming together physically as a school, a positive outcome of the video was that it was used as a visual catechizing tool. At the top corner of the screen, Langel inserted a digital rosary with beads that lit up as each prayer was said aloud.
“This was a great way for the little ones to keep track of the prayers as they followed along with their own rosaries. It got everyone involved,” said Schildwachter.
To learn more about St. Joseph School, visit sjcschargers.com or call 772-287-6975. To learn more about St. Anastasia School, visit saintanastasiaschool.org or call 772-461-2232. Stay updated on the happenings of the 17 diocesan Catholic schools throughout the Diocese of Palm Beach by following the Office of Catholic School on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @DoPBCatholicSchools or visit diocesepbschools.org.