by Carolyn Kaberline
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — It’s a little after 7:45 a.m. at Bishop Ward High School here as sophomore Carlos Florez waits patiently as the morning announcements are read. Soon the intercom is his, and he begins the rosary, leading the school in prayer through the first decade before going to his first class of the day.
He will return four more times during the day — before each class and homeroom — to finish the rosary.
Florez and some of his classmates have been leading the daily rosary at the school since April 3 and will continue to do so the rest of the year. The practice began with a suggestion from Michele Wilson, the school’s reading skills teacher.
“I attended a Lenten mission at Queen of the Holy Rosary led by Michael Scherschligt from School of Faith,” Wilson said. “He told us of the importance of praying the rosary, and I felt I needed to do my part and be an instrument for the Blessed Mother to bring others to her son, Jesus.
“I felt I was given an opportunity to bring this to our school,” she continued, “and wanted to be obedient to the Lord. I presented the idea to our principal and she was just as excited as I.”
“‘Let’s do this!’” she said.
“It was very touching to see how this idea really touched Mrs. Wilson as she was sharing the experience with me,” said Dr. Karen Hopson, principal of Bishop Ward.
“Knowing our faith is the reason for the school and that Father Tom [Schrader] and I expect each of our teachers to begin every class in prayer, this idea seemed like a wonderful fit for our school.”
Father Tom Schrader, O.Carm., agreed.
“The students are responding well,” said Father Tom, president of Bishop Ward. “All of the students and staff have been invested in the scapular. We often say the Hail Mary, so the praying of the rosary is connected closely to a devotion to Our Lady.”
“We have been sharing that this is the 100-year anniversary of Fatima and also a great way to honor Mary this last part of the school year,” added Hopson.
With permission granted for the daily rosary, Wilson next needed to find enough rosaries — about 300 — for the students.
“I asked Judy Dowd, the leader of our Divine Mercy prayer group at Queen of the Holy Rosary, if she knew of someone who could donate rosaries,” said Wilson. “She asked me how many I would need and said, ‘I think I have that amount.’
“‘The holy Mother always knows when we are in need of rosaries and she always comes through,’” said Dowd. The rosaries are made by a group of women in the parish.
“I told the students these were gifts from the holy Mother for the conversion of sinners,” said Wilson. Then she asked her fellow teachers for recommendations for student leaders who would make good role models, as well.
“The students I asked to lead it daily were very receptive to taking on this leadership role for our Holy Mother,” Wilson said.
Two students are assigned each day so that even if one is absent, the other one can carry on. In addition to Florez, those currently leading the rosary include juniors Mary Fox, Yaneli Jacinto, Jesus Rosas and Ashley Stitzer; sophomores Olga Mata-Gonzales and Samantha Peters; and freshman Samantha Yantz.
Hopson believes the benefits of saying the rosary each day are many.
“This is truly each member of our school community living our faith each day,” she said.
Will the daily rosary continue next year?
“We have gotten input from the faculty for continuing this practice in the fall,” Hopson said. “The administration will take the input that has been provided when making decisions for the upcoming school year.”
“I hope we continue to pray the rosary as a school,” said Father Tom. “I love the peace it brings to the community. As a Carmelite priest serving as president, I am supportive of Marian prayer.”
“I love that we work in an environment where, as in this case, a teacher is really moved by something connected to her faith, and we were able to honor that and include this with our daily expectations,” concluded Hopson.