September—the start of another school year. Hopefully,
all of your parish or school catechists are signed up, trained and ready to go. Undoubtedly,
you have already found sponsors for all of your RCIA candidates as well as volunteers to
babysit, bake cookies and do all the other odd jobs involved in another year of parish
catechesis. If not, have faith; you’ll find the folks you need, or you will discover
the program or process can survive without them. Just remember the all-important mantra
of the parish catechetical leader: “Adapt, adapt, adapt.”
In this issue of Faith Formation Update, you’ll be offered
an opportunity to do some adapting. We will look ahead to the feast of Our Lady of the
Rosary (October 7) and talk about how to celebrate the feast in an intergenerational setting.
I’ll share with you one of the fun rosary activities I remember celebrating with
the first parish I worked with.
The gathering began with participants in designated age groups learning
about the rosary. AmericanCatholic.org
an excellent resource for any information you need on Catholic topics. You will notice
in the top right corner of the homepage the words “St. Anthony help me find.” Under "Search
for Articles," type “rosary. The site has 265 references to the rosary. Catholic
, magazine articles and various Scripture From Scratch
issues all offer
immediate information on the subject. (Click
here to see the Catholic Update, “The Rosary: A Prayer for All Seasons” by
After talks, videos or discussions on the rosary, we led everyone to
the hall where we had assembled a huge rosary made out of helium-filled balloonsred
balloons for the Our Fathers and blue ones for the Hail Marys. (Those were the days before
we knew that sending helium balloons into the air was not ecologically safe.) The four-foot
cross for our rosary was constructed out of lightweight cardboard. We made sure to call
the local airport just to make sure it would be okay to launch our circle of prayers.
Just to be extra cautious and environmentally correct, we used biodegradable
toilet paper for our rosary chain. We laid several strips of paper in a big circle on the
floor taping balloons at the appropriate spot to both the paper and floor. Children and
adults wrote prayers on small pieces of paper and tied them to one of the balloons on the
floor. Next, we carefully, carried the rosary outside. After praying together, we let go
and watched our rosary ascend. It was great to watch as it gradually broke apart and headed
in different directions.
In later years we learned to make the cross heavy enough to anchor
the rosary, letting the beads float skyward. Since it was tied with string this time, the
rosary held together. One year, when we held our gathering on a Saturday afternoon, we
left the huge rosary flying near the church doors. It was a great way to greet the parishioners
who came to Mass that evening.
I know for a fact that years later many of the children and adults
who participated in that gathering have a clear memory of the red Our Fathers and blue
Hail Marys that made up our giant rosary. Hopefully, they also remember at least a little
of the history and meaning of this centuries-old prayer form.