Children worldwide pray for peace and unity in the world
by Matthias Böhnke
The pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) is calling for all children worldwide to take part in the joint campaign “One Million Children Praying the Rosary”. This year’s theme is mission, as Pope Francis has designated the month of October as the Extraordinary Missionary Month. With the motto “Baptised and Sent: The Church of Christ on Mission in the World”, the intention is to revive the missionary spirit worldwide through pastoral and spiritual initiatives. For this reason, missionaries and new missionary vocations will be the focus of the prayers spoken with the children.
This year’s prayer campaign will once again take place on 18 October. “Traditionally, after all, October is the month of the rosary and we also celebrate the feast day of St. Luke the Evangelist on 18 October. He was the only evangelist to write about the childhood of Jesus and is traditionally thought to have had close ties to the Virgin Mary,” Father Martin Barta, the Ecclesiastical Assistant of ACN International, explained. On this day, at 9 o’clock in the morning – or at any other appropriate time – thousands of groups of children worldwide will pray the rosary together.
“Each year we receive reports back from all over the world, telling us how children celebrated the day of prayer,” Father Barta was pleased to note. “It has truly become a prayer campaign of the World Church, which not only moves the hearts of children, but also those of adults and blazes a trail to peace!” How the celebration is held varies widely: some participants pray the entire rosary, others just a part. Some not only pray, but include a catechesis on praying the rosary, short readings and children’s hymns. Others invite the children to draw the Mysteries of the Rosary in addition to praying. In some places, teachers stop their regular lessons to pray with the children.
The campaign was initiated in 2005 in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas after a number of children prayed the rosary at a wayside shrine, leading the women who were present to deeply experience the presence of the Virgin Mary. In keeping with the promise of Saint Padre Pio – “When one million children pray the rosary, the world will change” – the campaign is intended to strengthen the faith in the power of children’s prayers.
On the homepage www.millionkidspraying.org, ACN has made a wide selection of materials for the campaign available as a free download in many different languages as well as some background information. The materials include a poster and a four-page prayer leaflet with texts, meditations on the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary and instructions on how to pray the rosary. In addition, there are reports and pictures from past campaigns as well as colouring pictures for children.