Children’s Rosary Unites Children in Africa and America
“We have prayed the Children’s Rosary for several years as part of our Catholic Schools Week,” says organizer Deb Franzenburg.
Last Tuesday, during Catholic Schools Week, the prayer of the Rosary united children in Boone, Iowa, and Shendam, Nigeria. The idea for the children to pray the Rosary together began a month earlier, when Deb Franzenburg, the Children’s Rosary group leader at Sacred Heart School in Boone, contacted Blythe Kaufman, the founder of the Children’s Rosary prayer-group movement.
Since the Children’s Rosary involves parishes and schools in approximately 34 countries around the world, Franzenburg’s idea was simple: “We are considering participating in a Children’s Rosary during Catholic Schools Week. We have our own Children’s Rosary, but that is on the second Wednesday of the month. I see that there is a location in Nigeria that is praying on the morning of Jan. 31 at 9am. I’m wondering if there is any way we can pray with them over a video call (or if we can even video chat afterwards).”
Franzenburg shared with the Register, “We have prayed the Children’s Rosary for several years as part of our Catholic Schools Week. Typically, we found some group in prayer at a time convenient to us. We joined spiritually with them. There was no communication. They did not know we were praying the same time. Only we had the knowledge someone else was praying. Then it was divine intervention that came to me this year to reach out to Blythe and ask about Nigeria.”
Sacred Heart Connection
Kaufman contacted Father Paul Miapkwap, the group leader of the Children’s Rosary at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Shendam. Nigeria is one of nine African countries where the Children’s Rosary flourishes.
More than 6,400 miles away from Sacred Heart School in Iowa was a cathedral also dedicated to the Sacred Heart —where children on their respective continents and countries pray the Rosary.
Not only did Father Miapkwap warmly welcome the idea, but he also would coordinate things so the children could pray together. All systems were set for the intercontinental joining in prayer.
So, on Feb. 1, in Boone, 97 children of Sacred Heart School gathered together in the parish’s Sacred Heart Parish Center at 10am, local time. Simultaneously, children in Shendam gathered in their cathedral at 5:00pm local time. They prayed the Rosary via Zoom; they could see and hear each other via large screens both at the Nigerian cathedral and in Boone.
“The children all knew they would be uniting in prayer with other children from the United States, but the experience of seeing them and actually praying with them was completely different,” Father Miapkwap explained in a message. “They were really encouraged!”
Bishop Davou Dung of Shendam also attended the Children’s Rosary and prayed with the 310 children present at the cathedral, united with those in the United States. Also joining in were four priests, three sisters and 95 students of the Catechetical Training Institute.
“Our children were so excited to pray with the children of Boone, lowa; [it was] an opportunity to see each other and pray together, showing the universality of the Church,” Father Miapkwa wrote after the event. “They pray for more opportunities to be united with other children in different parts of the world.”
The first Children’s Rosary prayer group began in Shendam Diocese in 2016 at St. John the Cross Parish, Shimankar. It has grown to include a Children’s Rosary prayer group at Sacred Heart Cathedral and other schools in the diocese. The children who gathered to pray on Feb. 1 were members of the Cathedral Children’s Rosary group who normally meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Members of the Children’s Rosary from Our Lady of Fatima School, Immaculate Heart School, and St. Maria Goretti School also took part. Our Lady of Fatima School’s 800 children meet three times a week during the school day to participate in the Children’s Rosary. At Immaculate Heart School, the Children’s Rosary takes place in each classroom twice a week.
‘Tapestry of Prayer’
“The Children’s Rosary seeks to support the prayer lives of children through prayer groups where the children lead the Rosary in schools and parishes,” explains Kaufman. “With groups on six continents, the Children’s Rosary creates this beautiful tapestry of prayer. This past week was an exciting step toward allowing the children to not only understand that they are connected in prayer to children around the world, but this week they were able to see children, and that connection became more real to them.”
Since 2018, Frazenburg has been coordinating the Children’s Rosary for her parish and school dedicated to the Sacred Heart.
Franzenburg underscored, “How overwhelming the whole experience was … what technology and prayer was doing for us at that moment. We hope to keep this continuing relationship with Father Paul. We’re already looking forward to doing another Children’s Rosary with them before the end of the school year.”
Even a parishioner who happened upon the event called Franzenburg the next day to tell her how touching the experience was.
In addition, the children in Shendam are going to be doing the Consecration to Jesus through Mary, also from the Children’s Rosary (ChildConsecration.com), and Franzenburg is hoping the Iowa children can join them at the same time frame so they can join spiritually.
Kaufman is pleased about this transcontinental prayer: “ Ideally, we love to see Children’s Rosary groups form within the school day where each of the classes becomes a small Children’s Rosary. The children take turns leading the prayers in their classroom, which helps to develop leadership skills and the wonderful habit of prayer.”
Reflecting on this week’s event, Franzenburg said, “This experience was impactful for our children here in the United States. It was a joyful event that has invigorated us. One of my students even asked if we might increase the frequency of our Children’s Rosary meetings, after seeing the children in Nigeria. When our students heard some of the schools in Shendam have a Children’s Rosary daily, it inspired us to want to meet more often.”
After the Rosary, fifth-grader Quinn Houston told her, “It was really cool to see kids across the world doing the exact same thing as us.” Another fifth-grader, Caleb Bartelett, also said, “I thought it was cool how we got to interact with kids that we never would have met in our entire lives.”
Children’s Rosary has a pair of special videos — an invitation video to schools and an instructional video explaining how to run the first Children’s Rosary meeting in the school — which to help launch the Children’s Rosary in the school settings.
Children’s Rosary books, CDs and a DVD (in English and Spanish) are available through EWTN Religious Catalogue here. A new Children’s Rosary documentary in the works will air on EWTN.