By Beth Donze
Reverence for human life – and the holy rosary – came together beautifully at St. Francis Xavier School on Oct. 6.
That morning, students in grades 2-7 gathered at St. Francis Xavier’s lush Memorial Garden to the Unborn to pray a “Living Rosary” with special pro-life intentions.
The inaugural event was conducted in acknowledgment of October’s twin distinctions as both “The Month of the Rosary” and “Respect Life Month.”
“Many of the prayers that we’re doing today were received from the Respect Life Office,” noted Barbara Martin, St. Francis Xavier’s principal, preparing her students for the special intentions the group would be focusing on at the start of each rosary decade.
The five intention areas were:
• The need to cherish all human life.
• For those in prison.
• For those who are “afraid of change.”
• The Christian calling to “have faith in all things.”
• For those who are very sick and their caregivers.
“The Respect Life Office designed a daily focus for students in grades K-5, and there are lessons for other grade levels,” Martin said.
For the third rosary decade, marked by meditations on the Third Joyful Mystery – Jesus’ birth – the students rose from their seated positions to pray the entire decade in perfect Spanish.
At the rosary’s conclusion, Martin directed her students’ attention to a stained-glass window of the Nativity inside the prayer garden’s octagonal pavilion. This window – the third in a five-panel series depicting the complete set of Joyful Mysteries – was paid for with money raised by St. Francis Xavier’s student body, Martin told the children.
“You can be very proud of that,” said the principal, who observed later that her students’ adoption of this particular mystery – Jesus’ birth – fit in nicely with their heightened October awareness of both the rosary and Catholics’ calling to build a culture of life, from conception to natural death.
“I chose the birth of Jesus as the students’ (adopted stained-glass window) because it is a Joyful Mystery that they are all aware of and understand,” Martin explained.
Respect Life Office director Debbie Shinskie, who was unable to attend the Oct. 6 rosary due to a conflict, sent St. Francis Xavier School a note expressing her delight that students would be praying “a very special Living Rosary for Life” during Respect Life Month.
“So many of our brothers and sisters need the prayers that you will say for them today,” Shinskie wrote. “Jesus tells us that whenever two or three of us are gathering in his name to pray, he is right there with us. I know it makes him very happy that you are caring for your brothers and sisters in need in this special way with him and his Mother Mary. You are all so very precious!”
Martin expressed her own gratitude to Shinskie’s office “for offering ways to pray with children in language that they understand regarding pro-life issues.”
In addition to the pro-life rosary, St. Francis Xavier students pray the following intention at morning prayers throughout October: “For all those born and unborn, young and old, healthy and sick, may they be loved as Jesus loves and may we cherish each person in our lives.”
To share what your elementary school or parish school of religion does to promote life, call Debbie Shinskie at 286-1119.