As Easter approaches, it’s ‘Recess Rosary’ at Catholic school in Bethel Park
In the weeks leading up to Easter, St. Thomas More Catholic School students trade playing games for saying prayers.
“Recess Rosary” has been a Lenten staple at the school in Bethel Park for several years, with many of the youngsters taking the opportunity to reflect between classes.
“We don’t make them do it. The kids who were there have chosen to do be there,” principal Setrak Haroutounian said. “We get pretty big groups of kids. I think most people would just be shocked that little ones would give up their time to pray.”
For those who aren’t all that familiar with it, the Rosary involves reciting several component prayers, such as the Apostles’ Creed, Lord’s Prayer and “Hail, Holy Queen.” The main prayer takes its name from the familiar string of rosary beads used to count the various components as the praying person progresses.
“The idea was to give parents a way to be involved in the prayer life at the school,” Haroutounian said about the couple of dozen volunteers who take time to lead the sessions. “They love it. They say it’s one of the greatest things they do all year long in the school.”
Encouraging all St. Thomas More students, from kindergarten through eighth grade, to share in prayer is part of one of the key elements of the school’s mission.
“There’s the academic rigor. There are the sports and extracurriculars,” the principal said. “We touch on all those pieces of development, but we touch on the spiritual piece, as well. We believe that’s foremost.”
The Rev. James Farnan, St. Thomas More Roman Catholic Church pastor, agreed.
“Parents who do make the sacrifice to come here really give their children something valuable,” he said.
He once asked a Slippery Rock University art history professor about the most frustrating part of his job, and was told: “We have kids who come in and just don’t know the Bible. And you can’t teach art without knowing the Bible.”
And the lesson learned?
“It reminds us that there is this whole part of the world that we’re very fortunate to be able to explore,” Farnan said, while offering another story for emphasis.
“I once interviewed an eighth-grader who was leaving, and I asked, ‘What was your Catholic school experience, one of the benefits?’ She said, ‘I’m very comfortable praying.’
“And I said, ‘Mission accomplished.’”