FARMINGTON — More than a dozen people, including five children, were gathered in the living room of Amie Agustin Pasion’s home April 23, yet the room was quiet except for the small voice of 7-year-old Leuel Dalupang.
“Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus,” Leuel Dalupang prayed confidently from his snug place in the lap of his father, Phim Dalupang.
“Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death,” chorused the rest of the people in the room.
The adults had come to Agustin Pasion’s house, some with their children in tow, to pray the family rosary. They gathered in the living room around a wooden statue of Mary, which was on loan from St. Patrick Parish in Victor. The parish has made the statue available to parishioners who would like to borrow it for a week at a time. While the statue is in their homes, families are encouraged to spend time praying together near it. The statue comes with several rosaries and instructions on how to say the rosary, as well as a folder containing more information about the various mysteries of the rosary, and a schedule for which mysteries to pray on each day of the week.
Like Agustin Pasion, Leilanni Dalupang and her family have hosted the statue in their home and prayed the rosary together around it. The experience was quite powerful, Dalupang said, noting that it felt like she was physically opening the door of her home to Mary.
“You treat her so special because she is the mother of God. During her stay, there is a difference in the atmosphere in your house that you can’t explain and at the end of her visit, my family feels sad because she’s leaving,” Dalupang said. “But it definitely is a wonderful experience that you can share with the family, especially the children.”
Dalupang, Agustin Pasion and Francia Aguila are coordinating the parish’s traveling-statue initiative in the hopes of encouraging more families to begin praying the rosary together. The family rosary is an important part of the Catholic tradition in the Philippines, where the three women were born and raised, Dalupang said.
“There is a saying that, ‘A family that prays together, stays together,’” she said.
The devotion gives families an opportunity to enrich their faith, and honoring Mary as both the mother of God and the mother of all Catholics helps the faithful to feel closer to God, Dalupang said.
“It also helps in teaching the kids how to pray,” she added.
Agustin Pasion said she and her friends learned to pray the rosary when they were in second grade, and the devotion has remained a regular part of their lives ever since. They try to pray the rosary together every day, and when they’re unable to get together in person, they often pray together over their phones via FaceTime, Aguila said.
“We pray when we’re in need of something, when we’re in sorrow or we’re mourning something, or when we’re thankful for our blessings,” Agustin Pasion said.
Through the rosary, Catholics can ask Mary to intercede with her son and their behalf, so the rosary helps Agustin Pasion feel like she’s not alone, she said. And when she’s feeling upset or angry, she added, praying the rosary helps her open her mind to potential ways to solve her problems.
The family rosary encourages children to pray and helps to shape their faith, Agustin Pasion added. The family’s commitment to the rosary helped her own children to learn such prayers as the Our Father and Hail Mary when they were still quite young, she said.
“Because they keep hearing it, they memorize it,” she said.
“It becomes a habit,” agreed Nanette Sabio-Persaed, who also participated in the family rosary at Agustin Pasion’s home.
Children who have an active prayer life and a strong faith are better equipped to handle the problems they face as they grow up, Agustin Pasion opined.
“They’ll be more secure, more able to face things. (The rosary) makes you stronger, guides you,” she said.