A bulletin announcement this summer called parishioners of St. Mary in Melrose to pray the rosary at the 100-year-old grotto on Wednesdays at 1 p.m. Robert Doyle and Peggy Stokman are among the 10 to 15 people who’ve carefully distanced themselves each week to pray.
When St. Mary’s School was again in session, another parishioner contacted the principal, Autumn Nelson, to invite children to join them at the grotto.
Nelson, principal for the last three years, was eager for the school to share prayer with the community. “It was a great idea,” Nelson said. “Our sixth-graders started out, and each of the following weeks a different grade was included.”
When the students came, Doyle, the previous principal at St. Mary’s School, stepped forward to include them. “I knew these children and wanted the rosary to make some sense to them. I rewrote the Glorious Mysteries in a children’s language. The students lead the rosary with me and the parishioners respond. It has been a prayerful experience.”
“It’s easier for the students who know the rosary better to participate,” Nelson said. “Children in the early grades are just being introduced to it, so they’re paired with older grades. Unless it’s pouring, our students will be there.”
This year the World Mission Rosary, she said, will be part of the school’s marathon, Prayer-a-thon and Grandparents’ Day activities. “Each grade will have a decade of rosary and read the countries we are praying for. This year we hope it will be outside, with the Church community,” she said.
For Peggy Stokman, school and parish praying together at the grotto has been a beautiful experience.
“Even when one child pointed out a nearby hummingbird while we were praying,” Doyle added.
Top photo: Students from St. Mary School in Melrose stand socially distanced as they join community members for a rosary prayer service at the grotto on the grounds of the St. Mary Parish house Oct. 7, the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. (Dianne Towalski/The Central Minnesota Catholic)