The World Mission Rosary: A chance to tour the regions of the world in prayer
By Katie Bogner
“When the Rosary is completed, one has circumnavigated the globe and embraced all continents, all people in prayer.” — From “The Catholic Hour,” Feb. 11, 1951
Fulton Sheen served as National Director of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith (now called the Pontifical Missions Society) from 1950 to 1966. His role required him to encourage public support for the mission territories, a task he contributed to openly with his own funds as well as the proceeds from his television show “Life is Worth Living.”
But Sheen saw that it wasn’t enough to charitably donate toward the needs of the less fortunate. It was necessary to also embrace them in prayer, finding our common humanity and equal dignity. Sheen was a world traveler, but it wasn’t just for speaking engagements. He also visited the mission territories of the world, spending time in leper colonies and orphanages. Every aspect of his life was geared toward evangelization, whether to the wealthy atheist in New York City or the uneducated orphan from Africa. Knowing that his travel experience was a unique part of his job, he sought a way to bring the world to the individual.
In 1951 on his radio show “The Catholic Hour,” Fulton Sheen first taught about the World Mission Rosary, calling it a chance to tour the world. Using a tool available to every Catholic, he designed a rosary with a simple color coded system that helps the one praying call to mind the people of a particular region of the world. Green reminds us of the grasslands of Africa. Red is for the martyrs that brought the faith to the Americas. White is for Europe, the seat of the Holy Father. Yellow reminds us of the land of the rising sun, Asia. And Blue represents the water surrounding the islands in the Pacific Ocean.
Fulton Sheen concluded the radio address introducing the World Mission Rosary with the idea that the rosary is a chance to sanctify the ordinary moments of each day, using idle time to benefit not only ourselves but also those who are the object of our prayer. He said, “It all comes down to this: the world will change when we change. But we cannot change without prayer, and the power of the rosary as a prayer is beyond description.” He lived this out with the staff, volunteers, and visitors at the offices for the Society for the Propagation of the Faith in New York, where work stopped at 3 p.m. each day so that all present could join their prayers and intentions as they prayed a rosary together.
LEARNING FROM SHEEN
Use the link below to print the brochure with Sheen’s World Mission Rosary Reflections for the Joyful, Sorrowful, and Glorious Mysteries. You don’t need an actual World Mission Rosary with the specific colors, but can just petition for the needs of that region on each decade of your favorite rosary.
SHARING SHEEN WITH YOUR FAMILY
Help your child make their own World Mission Rosary with beads, or as paper chain, or even using colored candy laid out on a plate! Teach them the symbolism of the green, red, white, yellow, and blue decades. Then pray the rosary together, wrapping up the whole world in the prayers of your family! You can find WMR printables for kids below.
Sheen quote World Mission Rosary
Katie Bogner is the junior high faith formation teacher at St. Philomena School in Peoria. She blogs at looktohimandberadiant.com.