It’s rare for basketball and the rosary to come up in the same sentence, except perhaps when a loyal fan is praying extra-hard for his or her team to win.
Yet the folks at Our Lady of the Valley Parish meshed those two subjects together quite nicely during “Super Rosary Sunday,” held Oct. 29 at St. Ann School in Hornell. The afternoon event was filled with rosary-related activities in keeping with the Catholic Church’s special emphasis on Marian devotion during the month of October.
Highlighting the day was “Rosary Basketball” with special guest hoops extraordinaire Father Patrick Van Durme, Our Lady of the Valley’s pastor. According to Patty Peisher, organizer, the game involved Father Van Durme and children shooting at baskets, with a rosary bead being counted for each basket made. Peisher noted that an entire rosary was completed.
Rosary basketball was a hit with Caitlin and Joey Gavin, who rated it as the highlight of their day.
“I did a slam dunk. Father Pat picked me up and helped me do a slam dunk,” noted Joey, 8.
Peisher came up with the idea of Rosary Basketball as a way to appeal to young participants while also imparting the value of rosary devotion.
“I just feel that it’s something they need to learn about, and this is a fun way to do it,” said Peisher, who serves as Our Lady of the Valley’s religious-education co-coordinator along with Suzanne Piatt.
Another portion of Super Rosary Sunday was devoted to arts and crafts, during which children created large rosaries out of egg cartons, pompons and pipe cleaners. The rosaries are now going on display at both St. Ann Church in Hornell and St. Mary Church in Rexville. Participants also made crosses made out of clothespins.
“They came out really lovely,” said Pat Hooper, an Our Lady of the Valley parishioner who was an adult assistant for Super Rosary Sunday. “It’s amazing how good they looked.”
Other features on Oct. 29 included the acting out of various mysteries of the rosary and the showing of a video about St. Bernadette of Lourdes, France, who received a series of Marian apparitions at age 14.
“There are no classroom religious-ed classes that Sunday. We spend an afternoon together doing learning in a more fun, active way,” Father Van Durme explained.
“We learn more about religion and God and everything,” said Caitlin Gavin, 12. Asked if she preferred that format to sitting in religious-education class, she responded with an emphatic “yes.”
Hooper said that the children “already knew about Mary being the mother of Jesus,” and activities such as Super Rosary Sunday help them deepen their devotion to Mary.
Peisher estimated that approximately 50 young people — mostly first- through third-graders — attended Super Rosary Sunday, which was open to kids in grades prekindergarten through 8. The day helped Our Lady of the Valley live up to its parish name by uniting participants from many parts of western Steuben County’s Canisteo Valley in honoring Mary.
“We had children from all over the region — from Greenwood, Canisteo and Hornell. It was a chance for the children to get together,” Hooper said.
“I like the idea of the kids learning the importance of the rosary, and having some time with Father Pat, and putting the different churches together,” added Kayleen Gavin, whose children Joey and Caitlin attended Super Rosary Sunday with their older sister Chelsey, 16.
Peisher said Our Lady of the Valley offers occasional Super Sundays throughout the year, with others devoted to such key church events as Pentecost, All Saints Day and Marian devotion in the month of May.
Hooper acknowledged that some youths may have taken part in Super Rosary Sunday simply because their parents signed them up. However, she said that “even though they may have come reluctantly, they seemed to leave with enthusiasm. They were so well behaved, and they did really well with it.”
“One of them left and said ‘Can we do this every week?'” Peisher remarked.