Encouraging children to pray and grow in their faith is an important part of their formation as young Catholics — after all, as Jesus tells us in Matthew 19:14, “Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” One of the ways we draw our children to Jesus and our faith is by teaching them the Rosary and praying it regularly.
On the first Saturday of every month after 8 a.m. Mass, children of our parish gather to pray the Rosary together. Ann Whelan facilitates the monthly gathering.
“Babies, energetic toddlers, grade school kids, and older kids are all welcome!” Ann says. “Parents are encouraged to attend and pray too. It’s amazing what children learn through the example of their parents. If they see you prioritizing prayer, chances are they will too.”
The entire prayer time is child-led and designed to help our youngest parishioners learn and come to love the Rosary. Beginning with pre-written intentions, five of the children take turns leading the decades. They also present roses to Mary after each of the five decades.
“Because it’s children-led and is about providing a child-oriented praying of the Rosary, it’s not always the perfect Rosary recitation and, honestly, that’s the point,” Ann says. “Sometimes we pray five Hail Marys for a decade, sometimes 15 — but that’s okay! It’s not about praying the perfect Rosary. It’s about bringing children together to pray the Rosary to the best of their abilities without the worry of doing it wrong.”
The Children’s Rosary gatherings began many years ago but paused during the COVID-19 pandemic. The gatherings then restarted in the summer of 2021, which was the first time the Whelan family attended. They were invited by the Allday family, who were leading at the time.
“We attended our first Rosary in July of 2021 and never missed another month,” Ann says. “We even arranged vacations around the first Saturday because our girls never wanted to miss.”
The ministry almost ended last summer when the leading family moved out of state. The Whelan family took over, despite the busyness of their family life and preparations for the arrival of their fourth daughter.
“We had just had the conversation that it would be wise to not take on any more commitments until after the baby was born,” Ann says. “But as is the case so often, God’s ways are not our ways. Our choice was to either let the Children’s Rosary Ministry end or take over leading it. We couldn’t imagine it ending as we had witnessed so many blessings through our family’s participation.”
So, the Whelans took over the ministry, and their daughter was born on the first Saturday of October — a Children’s Rosary day.
The children pray for many intentions, including for the good of the parish, community, and the world. They have boxes sitting by the statues of Mary and Joseph inside the church for anyone to request specific intentions. These are collected before each Rosary and are offered up in prayer.
“I think it’s a wonderful witness for the adults who stay after Mass to see the children praying the Rosary to the best of their abilities,” Ann says. “I have had countless adults stop me after our Rosary and express how touched they were to pray along with the children. The Rosary can be intimidating even for adults. I can only imagine that it warms our Blessed Mother’s heart to have a group of children doing their best to honor her through their prayers.”
The Children’s Rosary is open to any families and children. Gatherings happen around 8:45 a.m. on the first Saturday of each month — simply drop in to participate!