Children at St. Joseph Parish learn about the history and methods of praying the rosary through a variety of fun exercises in the program “Think Good Thoughts.” More than 1,000 youngsters have participated in the 12-session program at the parish. Courtesy photo/Holy Cross Family Ministries
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KINGSTON -- St. Joseph Parish is playing a prominent role in the worldwide resurgence of the rosary. More than 1,000 children in the parish’s religious education program are learning about this important form of prayer that dates back to the early days of Christendom.
The youngsters are participating in “Think Good Thoughts,” an interactive face-to-face program that examines the history and significance of the rosary. The 12-session program is part of the religious education activities conducted by Family Rosary, one of the missions of Holy Cross Family Ministries, which has its worldwide headquarters in North Easton.
“The rosary is not only a means of prayer, it is a wonderful teaching tool,” said Beth Mahoney, mission director of Family Rosary. “The mysteries bring to life Christ’s life. In this program, the children and teens are learning the history of the rosary, the mysteries, and how to pray the rosary. We often refer to the rosary as a catechism on a string,” she added.
“Think Good Thoughts” relates the history of the rosary back to the early Christians, and even the Old Testament, when the extended family came together to pray the Psalms. While most people could not read, they attempted to recall the 150 psalms from memory. They would collect 150 stones in a leather bag, then take out one stone at a time and try to remember as much of the psalm as they could. If they could not recall the words, they would simply rub the stone and think good thoughts.
The program also includes stories of Christian monks and how they, too, used stones. Some even tied knots in a rope they wore around their waist, which is how today’s rosary came into being. It consisted of the repetition of the “Our Father” at first and later the “Hail Mary” was added. Both prayers were easily memorized by those who were unable to read. Through “Think Good Thoughts,” children learn about the rich heritage of this important form of prayer and then are introduced to the “modern” version. They discover many creative ways to use the rosary, including with stones, eggs and yarn, to help make the connection.
“The ‘Think Good Thoughts’ program has been a very lively way to engage children in our religious education program,” said Ann Cussen, director of religious education at St. Joseph’s. “It isn’t always easy to engage children in this rich prayer, but they’ve been excited to participate. I think we are all seeing the rosary a little differently.”
The founder of Family Rosary, Father Patrick Peyton, CSC, taught that the rosary was a prayer for every age. He believed that the attention of little children could be held for these few minutes of prayer simply by fingering the beads while older worshippers could dwell on the words, meditate on the mysteries of the rosary or become immersed in a spirit of contemplation.
Family Rosary offers the “Think Good Thoughts” program to schools and parishes throughout the United States. Several thousand children have participated in the program over the past year.