BRIGHTON — What does a woman who lived 2,000 years ago have to do with such issues as abortion, poverty, capital punishment and war today? Plenty, if you ask the students at Siena Catholic Academy.
During the week of May 7-13, dozens of the school’s seventh- and eighth-graders volunteered to pray the rosary together outside beneath a maple tree near the school’s East Avenue entrance. Not only were the students paying homage to Mary during the month traditionally associated with her, they also were praying for an end to such threats to human life as abortion and war, and for the elderly, the sick and the imprisoned.
Christie Principe, vice principal, said that the public rosary recitations were helping to impress upon the students the importance of the church’s teachings regarding human life.
“They’re taking time out of their studies and doing something for the greater good,” she said as the students prayed May 10. “It’s really encouraging to see something like that.”
That day, a group of eighth-grade students seemed to be taking the message of the week to heart. Katie Lynch, for example, said she was particularly interested in praying for prisoners. She said she believed the students’ prayers would benefit prisoners.
“In my elementary school, we were taught that kids’ prayers were extra special,” she said.
Maggie MacCallum said she believes there is spiritual strength in numbers.
“People need prayers,” she said. “If we all gather together to pray for people, we can make a difference.”
Ian Scheil said he was praying both for the poor and to publicly proclaim his Catholic faith. He said it was important for the students to be praying the rosary in a place where people could see them.
“I hope it will inspire people to start praying the rosary for people to start coming back into the faith that has so long been forgotten,” he said.
The week’s prayer sessions had benefited him personally as well, Ian said.
“I actually believe it’s helping me understand God more and helped me understand how much people need help,” he said.
Sean Murphy said he was praying for single pregnant women, as well as for peace in the world.
“There’s always someone in need of help, so you offer up your prayers and sometimes your burden of the day,” he said.
Judy Finn, a religion teacher at the school, noted that as the students get older, they’ll be faced with such questions as whether to stand for the unborn and prisoners on death row.
“Mary was the first and most perfect disciple of Jesus,” she said. “As Catholics, we believe that Jesus will always be for life.”