When we announced our Missionary Childhood Association "Mary-athon" in April, we hoped that the World Mission Rosaries that were crafted by volunteers across the Archdiocese of Boston would be used to benefit the missions and to pray for the whole world.
Little did we know that at the beginning of May, Pope Francis, the head of our Pontifical Mission Societies, would announce a Rosary Marathon for the month of May! Every day, during this past month, a different Marian Shrine in various countries has hosted the recitation of the rosary with intention of praying for an end to the pandemic. The United States hosted the prayer session on May 17th in The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC. Cardinal Wilton Gregory, Archbishop of Washington led the Joyful Mysteries.
The Holy Father launched the initiative on May 1st, leading the world in a rosary from Saint Peter's Basilica. His intention for the inaugural rosary was "for the entire world, wounded by this pandemic."
"Most loving Mother," he prayed, "grant that the sense of belonging to one great family, in the awareness of the bond that unites us all, might grow in the world; so that, with a spirit of fraternity and solidarity, we might come to the aid of the many people who are poor and the many situations of misery. Encourage firmness in faith, perseverance in service, constancy in prayer."
In this same spirit of solidarity with the poor, we asked our Catholic schools to take up the Mary-athon venture.
It was no surprise that the first school to accept the challenge was Saint John Paul II Catholic Academy in Lower Mills. Students there have been active members of the Missionary Childhood Association (MCA) since the school opened. Under the leadership of Principal Lisa Warshafsky, their commitment to the two pillars of MCA membership -- prayer and sacrifice for others -- has multiplied like loaves and fishes!
The students spent the month of May learning more about the rosary and the needs of children in the missions, all the while, strengthening their own faith. The students know that they are not expected to hop on a plane and evangelize the world tomorrow -- that can wait a few years! In the meantime, they bring beautiful meaning to the words of their patron, Saint John Paul II who said, "Some people give to the missions by going, others go to the missions by giving. Without both, there are no missions."
Their commitment to prayer and sacrifice puts the unity in commUNITY!
- Maureen Crowley Heil is Director of Programs and Development for the Pontifical Mission Societies, Boston.
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