By Beth Donze, Kids’ Clarion
When she came on board this past fall as the new coordinator of religious education (CRE) at St. Ann School in Metairie, Michelle Buisson Alley was asked by teachers if she could find a multi-media rosary guide that was “less scary” for children.
The guides that were available tended to flash images of ominous-looking angels and Gothic-style stained-glass scenes.
The recording on one rosary guide used the term “Holy Ghost” – rather than “Holy Spirit” – during the Sign of the Cross, causing students to raise their eyebrows.
Many rosary aides were also outdated, with many not covering the Luminous Mysteries, the set of rosary meditations initiated in 2002 by Pope St. John Paul II.
“I kept looking and looking and I couldn’t find anything. There was no kid-friendly rosary,” Alley said. “So I said why don’t we just make our own? The kids said, ’We can do that!’ They’re so tech savvy!”
Since November, Alley’s newly formed Student Ministry Club, a group of 19 St. Ann sixth and seventh graders, has been meeting every Monday and Tuesday morning before school to research soothing and colorful religious drawings to post alongside the rosary prayers and mysteries. The finished product, which will include the students’ recorded voices, will be broadcast on St. Ann’s closed-circuit television system during quarterly schoolwide rosaries beginning in March.
Sixth grader Trystan Rieffel, an altar server, said he joined the Student Ministry Club to help his schoolmates.
“I have heard of stories of kids falling asleep at Mass and not participating,” Trystan said.
When challenged by Alley to find an image to place alongside one of the rosary’s Our Fathers, he chose a picture of a happy monk named Brother Francis, his hands coming together in prayer.
“‘Brother Francis’ is a religious video. It’s a class favorite,” Trystan said. “So I decided to put the Our Father prayer next to Brother Francis, to make it a little bit more fun.”
Seventh grader Regan Nugent is using her iPad’s stylus to color in clip art for the various rosary scenes. Recently, she had fun bringing The Annunciation, the First Joyful Mystery, to life.
“When I was younger I thought it was a little weird when you could see some blood on Jesus on the cross,” Regan said. “I definitely think this (rosary video) will be better, especially for the kindergartners and the first graders.”
Alley praised her Ministry Club members for their initiative and leadership.
“They just took on the project,” she said. “I don’t really have to direct them as much as I thought I would have to. A lot of times they’re directing me, especially when it comes to the technological stuff!”
Alley said the club creates or supports any campus endeavor that cultivates St. Ann School’s Catholic identity. Other club activities include writing prayers other school clubs and teams can use at their meetings; and making campus banners, some based on inspirational homily points offered by St. Ann’s pastor, Father Billy O’Riordan. The group also helped make prayer cards celebrating Vocation Awareness Week, dedicated to local seminarians.
A “Liturgy Team” of seventh graders – all volunteers from the larger club – helps set up school Masses and accompanies younger lectors as they practice the readings before Mass, making sure the microphone is set to their height.
Alley hopes to complete the rosary guide by March and is willing to share it with any parish or school. For more information, call Alley at 455-7051, ext. 120; or email her at email@example.com.