SEATTLE – Suje Anton and his wife, Dinusha, were praying for opportunities to become more attuned to God and their prayer lives.
The Antons, members of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Seattle, used to pray the rosary often — before work, life and starting a family took up more of their time.
Enter fellow parishioner Joy Beal, a member of the Legion of Mary. She introduced the couple to the Pilgrim Rosary, a month-long commitment to praying the rosary that is passed, family to family, through the parish.
“It was a perfect opportunity to refocus and introduce our daughter to the rosary and get back into the practice of praying the rosary daily,” Suje said.
When the couple began the Pilgrim Rosary in August (while awaiting the September birth of their second daughter, Sophia Grace), they received a basket that is sent home with a different family each month. It contains a statue of Our Lady of Fatima, holy water, oversized rosary beads, a candle and a journal where families can share their thoughts.
When they brought the basket home, Suje said, he felt Mary’s presence enter their house.
Dinusha and Suje Anton and their 4-year-old daughter, Ella, hosted Blessed Sacrament’s Pilgrim Rosary in August, shortly before Dinusha gave birth to their second daughter, Sophia Grace. Photo: Courtesy Joy Beal
At first, it was challenging to stay focused while saying the rosary, he said, but that changed after spending the month concentrating on prayer.
“Praying the rosary keeps you grounded, and the mysteries keep things in perspective,” he said.
Focusing on ‘the meditation of Christ’
The Legion of Mary at Blessed Sacrament, a Dominican parish, started the Pilgrim Rosary in 2016 as a way to put more focus on the rosary and mark the 800th anniversary of the Dominican Order, Beal said.
“We’re really trying to promote our mother’s favorite prayer,” Beal said. When someone in the parish asks why they should consider hosting the Pilgrim Rosary, Beal replies: “To grow in holiness.”
Families receive the Pilgrim Rosary at the end of Mass on the first Sunday of the month, when the priest celebrating Mass invites them to come forward for a blessing. Families are also asked to pray for the intentions of Dominican Father John Marie Bingham, Blessed Sacrament’s pastor.
The Hanzeli family — Christopher, Michele and their children Daniel, Matthew, Aaron and Peter — responded to the Pilgrim Rosary call in late 2016.
“We always had a desire to pray the rosary, but fell victim to distractions of everyday life,” Chris said.
Hosting the Pilgrim Rosary was a way to commit not just to Jesus, but also to the parish community, he said. And it helped him block out the “noise” of life’s distractions, giving him “a sense of peace and calm,” he said.
“The formula of the rosary helped me reorient myself to what is important, and that is the meditation of Christ,” he added.
‘Our kids were so into it’
The journal that travels with the Pilgrim Rosary reveals families’ experiences of praying the rosary for a month.
Chris and Michele Hanzeli still pray their rosary every week with their children Matthew, lower left, Peter and Aaron, and Daniel (standing) after the family hosted Blessed Sacrament Parish’s Pilgrim Rosary in late 2016. Photo: Courtesy Joy Beal
“To our great surprise, our kids were so into it,” reads one entry. “Prior to hosting the rosary, our attempts at praying a whole rosary was met with groans and frustrations, but something clicked. … Hosting the rosary was a great exercise in slowing down the pace of life.”
Other families noted their appreciation for the oversized rosary beads.
“One thing that helped our prayer time was the size of the rosary,” an entry reads. “The boys were all able to hold it at the same time while we were praying.”
By the time they completed the Pilgrim Rosary, Anton said, his 4-year-old daughter Ella was starting to recite and memorize the prayers.
“Whenever we were praying the rosary, she would hear the start of the decades and start asking questions,” Anton said.
Hanzeli also said his children, ages 3 to 11, benefited from the daily prayer regimen. “It enhances the whole experience for them and helps them internalize what they’re doing,” he said.
After completing the Pilgrim Rosary, he joined the Rosary Confraternity, a Dominican association devoted to praying and promoting the rosary. The Hanzeli family continues praying the rosary together every week, even reciting it in the car.
The Pilgrim Rosary, Hanzeli said, has “touched our hearts.”
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