Rosary focus of day for Champaign-area catechists

CHAMPAIGN — What are some responses that directors of religious education, catechists and Catholic school teachers get when they teach the rosary? Veteran and beginning educators attending a regional Equip Catechist Training Day at St. Matthew’s Parish here on Saturday offered a range of reactions.

One said she thought students and families have fallen away from saying the rosary. Another said she is pleasantly surprised each year when a few children tell her that their family prays the rosary every night.

One teacher said she wished more people would come out to see the living rosary that involves all children from her school. Others told of praying the rosary daily or weekly with their classes or putting special focus on it during the months of May and October and during Lent.

Sponsored by the Champaign Religious Educator’s Network, Saturday’s gathering provided a fresh look at teaching the devotion in schools and parishes as the Diocese of Peoria begins a special Year of the Most Holy Rosary.

KEYNOTE SPEAKER was Beth Mahoney, mission director for Holy Cross Family Ministries (HCFM). The organization was founded by Father Patrick Peyton, known as “the rosary priest” and for making popular the phrase “The family that prays together, stays together.”

Mahoney drew upon the teaching of Pope John Paul II in his 2002 apostolic letter “The Rosary of the Virgin Mary.” She said the pope’s letter, in which he introduced five additional mysteries called “luminous,” is easy to understand and should be read by educators and others.

Mahoney used the late pope’s discussion of the “five gazes of Mary” to make the events of Christ’s life, as chronicled by the rosary, relevant to her audience. She said teachers and parents should recognize the looks that Mary gave her Son in the following rosary mysteries because they also have used them with children and students:
— the questioning look when Jesus was lost in the temple
— the penetrating gaze at the wedding at Cana
— the look of sorrow at the foot of the cross
— the gaze of joy when Jesus rose from the dead, and
— the gaze “afire” at Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit provided direction for the apostles.

Known as “the rosary lady” when she travels around the country presenting workshops, Mahoney said the key to connecting with students and families is finding ways to make the mysteries of the rosary relevant to today.
Following her talk, educators chose from among six workshops to attend.

“We want to provide practical tools to start the year off well,” said event planner Marc Cardaronella, regional director of religious education for the Diocese of Peoria in the Danville and Champaign vicariates.

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