May 18, 2021 // Diocese

Let the children lead

“In 1917, Jesus saw a world that was suffering. Out of great love, He sent His mother to earth with a message: ‘pray the rosary every day to obtain peace in the world.’ He sent this message to children, asking them to lead the adults.” 

This was the introduction to a children’s rosary prayed May 13, on the 104th anniversary of the Blessed Mother’s first appearance at Fatima. Children of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend Catholic schools followed the example of the children at Fatima by leading the adults in reciting the luminous mysteries for peace within families, in the nation, and in the world.


The rosary, offered as a video on the diocesan website, YouTube channel and Facebook page, and with audio airing on Redeemer Radio, served as an invitation to families to continue praying the rosary daily — taking Mary’s hand as she walks God’s children through the life of her Son. 

The idea for the rosary came to Betsy Williams of South Bend while praying during adoration. “I was reflecting on the sad state of our world, on the persecution of people of faith and the lack of peace that permeates so much of our world. I began to think about the children of Fatima and felt very struck by this fact: During the time of a world war, when people were suffering greatly and there was no peace, Jesus sent a message to earth to help us,” she explained. 

It is clear to Williams that the message was given to children instead of adults because they do not try to alter the message or reinterpret it. They just trust, with pure love. 

“I have the great joy and blessing of bringing young children to adoration frequently. Every time I see them before Jesus in the Eucharist, I am struck by the sweet and pure way that they give their love to Him. I look at their faces and I am moved to tears every time” she continued. 

Mary’s message to children to “Pray your rosary every day to obtain peace for the world” inspired Williams to reach out to the staff of the diocese — the Catholic Schools Office and the Secretariat for Communications — to help organize the rosary event, which was titled “Let the Children Lead.” It included filming a children’s rosary and the creation of a website that provided the reflections, materials to teach children about the miracle of Fatima and resources for families as they continue to pray together. 

Jennifer Simerman
Students from Bishop Dwenger High School and Queen of Angels School in Fort Wayne lead a livestreamed diocesan rosary May 13, the 104th anniversary of the appearance of Our Lady of Fatima.

Ten students from Bishop Dwenger High School, Fort Wayne, whose school patron saint is Mary, Queen of All Saints, started the filmed rosary and led each of the decades with reflections from Sister M. Lissetta Gettinger, OSF, of the Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, Mishawaka. Fifty students from Queen of Angels School, Fort Wayne recited the Hail Marys. 

The pre-recorded rosary was recited at Queen of Angels Church, Fort Wayne, and every school in the diocese was encouraged to watch, listen and pray along at 10 a.m. on the feast day. 

“I felt that the students were so reverent, and it was so beautiful to participate in praying the rosary with them” Dennis Wiegmann, principal of Queen of Angels School, noted. 

After each of the five luminous mystery reflections, the students prayed the following. 

The baptism in the Jordan: “O Mary, help me to receive God’s love and peace deep into my heart. Help me to always remember that I am a child of God. I want to share God’s love and peace with everyone I meet.”

Sacred Heart School, Warsaw

The wedding feast at Cana: “O Mary, my Mother, pray for my family and for all families. May our homes be places of safety, love, and peace. Mother of Gentle Love, we entrust ourselves to you.”

The proclamation of the kingdom and the call to conversion: “O Mary, I pray for my principal, teachers, and classmates. Help us to share peace with one another, to respect each other through kind words and actions. Give me the courage to say I’m sorry when I’ve done something wrong or hurt someone else.”

The Transfiguration: “O Mary, you knew about the glory of your Son and you experienced his peaceful presence daily. Our country needs the peace of Jesus. Pray for our president, Mr. Joseph Biden, all politicians, all who work in the government, all who serve our country, and all people striving for life, liberty, and happiness.”

The Institution of the Holy Eucharist: “O Mary, dear Lady of Fatima, you came with the message of peace for the entire world. I pray for an end to war, terrorism, and hate. You asked Jacinta, Francisco, and Lucia to pray the rosary daily for peace. We unite our prayers with you and all of heaven. May peace dwell in the hearts of every man, woman, and child in the entire world.”

“The rosary was a beautiful way to honor and celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Fatima with the voices of our children singing and praying. We could feel the presence of Jacinta, Lucia and Francisco smiling upon our Mishawaka Catholic saints,” said Beth Whitfield, vice principal of Mishawaka Catholic School. 

Students across the diocese participated in the rosary in various ways. Some prayed along with the video, while others prayed in their own way. Mishawaka Catholic students listened and prayed along with a broadcast of the rosary by Redeemer Radio and lined up in the shape of a rosary in the parking lot at St. Bavo Church. Sacred Heart School, Warsaw, started the rosary with a crowning of Mary, and then each class led a decade of the rosary with meditation. Leading up to the feast day, the students colored pictures of Our Lady of the Rosary and hung them up in their hallways.

“I think sometimes people wonder how praying the rosary can bring about peace,” said Williams, “I’ve come to think of it in this way: Each mystery is an opportunity for us to learn about stories from the life of Jesus. Doing this over and over deepens our relationship with Him. When we do this in our families, we invite Jesus into our hearts and our homes. We invite peace into our homes because you can’t think about Jesus without feeling peace. 

“Taking that short amount of time out of our busy days will change the world. Can you imagine if we all knelt in prayer every day for 15 minutes and invited Jesus into our homes?” 

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