by Jane Graves
LEAWOOD — When Our Lady of Guadalupe visits Church of the Nativity parishioners personally, they know it’s time to pray.
No, Our Lady is not making the rounds of Johnson County Catholics in the flesh. But the painted wooden icons that represent her are part of the rosary pack- ets circulating courtesy of Nativity Family Rosary Groups.
“We have eight families in the group,” explained Kelly Samuelson, Nativity parishioner. “On Sunday, the image of Mary winds up on your doorstep, and every night of the week you pray the rosary with your family. At the end of the week, we pass Mary on to the next family.”
Kelly and her husband Alan — along with their daughters Gracie, 8, and Trinity, 2 — are founding members of the Nativity Family Rosary Groups. This fall the Samuelsons decided to encourage new groups to form, Kelly said. As a result, there are now around 60 new families saying the rosary using rosary packets purchased by the parish’s Knights of Columbus.
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann blessed the icons used in the packets at a family rosary celebration held Oct. 7 at the parish. Kelly estimated around 250 members of the rosary groups were able to join him in saying the rosary that evening.
The packet exchange serves as a reminder for families to take time out to say the rosary together, Kelly explained.
“A lot of families are so busy,” she said. “I know in my family it’s hard…to find time with kids and activities. I can take time myself at night after the kids are down and pray the rosary, but as a family I think we’ve gotten away from just stopping everything and taking the time to do that.”
That’s where the rosary packet program comes in.
“I think when Mary shows up at your door, you don’t have any choice, because she’s there and she’s ready for you to pray,” said Kelly.
Gracie, a third-grader at Nativity School, likes to lead the mysteries of the rosary and to look at the pictures in the rosary booklet. She said she thinks of the other families in the group when she’s praying, along with all the people who need prayers.
“I like to say the rosary with my family, and it makes me feel good that we’re praying,” Gracie said.
Trinity, the Samuelsons’ youngest, “never sits still” during the rosary, Kelly said, but does have an understanding that the family is praying.
“You know, we’re all quiet, the TV’s off, and it’s calm,” Kelly said. “I think even she realizes that it’s a special time.”
Alan said seeing his children participate in the rosary is what makes being a part of the Nativity
Family Rosary Groups exciting.
“It really lays a foundation of right from wrong and healthy spirituality, and I think you can’t [afford to]wait until they’re 15 or 16 — you have to do it when they’re 2 and 3 and 4 years old.
“Then, little by little,” he said, “they’ll understand more, hopefully.” The Nativity Family Rosary Groups, while initially founded by families with young children, are open to singles and to families in every stage of life, said Kelly. For information on creating a rosary group, examples of Nativity’s written material, and a list of what the groups have included in their rosary packets, contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling (913) 696-0990.