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As we close out the month of May, I want to pay a tribute to the Virgin Mary and continue what our special visitors, The Heralds of the Gospel, highlighted during their visit earlier this month. They challenged us to utilize daily the gift we all have from our Blessed Mother, the Rosary.


Growing up, I was lucky to have parents who had a great devotion to the Virgin Mary. Reverence to Mary was embedded in my childhood and praying the rosary is a core memory. My Irish father in particular had strong views in Irish history, politics, and his Catholic faith. I vividly remember coming downstairs each morning and seeing him praying the rosary, either quietly at the breakfast table or at the big, beautiful statue of Mary he proudly displayed in our backyard. This statue still stands there today and has been a focal point for my family and the many guests who have stopped by the Healy home. The story of how he and a friend managed to get it from our local church down the street to our backyard is still told to his grandkids today. During one of his daily visits to the church where he volunteered to keep the grounds nice and help out whenever he was needed, he came across the statue which was being replaced. The priest told him if he could find a way to move it, he could take it home. My mom was overjoyed when he finally came home with something of importance, as he often brought home random pieces of furniture he found on the side of the road. This statue of the Blessed Mother, which my father painstakingly took care of, became his pride and joy. He planted a beautiful garden around her and she was there for all of us throughout all our little trials and tribulations growing up. It became our little place of peace and healed many a broken heart, mended troubled relationships, and got us to see more clearly in the midst of teenage angst and sibling rivalry.


Most importantly it opened up conversations about faith and helped foster not only my spiritual life but many friends’ spiritual lives as well, including some who did not come from a home that was rich in faith or who had fallen astray during their teenage years. Our Lady was there, whether it be for the group of teenagers socializing around the nearby fire pit or someone praying in solitude about a test we felt nervous about or an unresolved argument or worry we had, Mary was there to listen. We could talk freely to Mary, our mother and walk away with a clear mind and open heart. Our home wasn’t the fanciest nor the biggest house in town and I often wondered why so many friends growing up always seemed to find it a place of refuge and comfort. We welcomed many guests to our home over the years and some seemed to never want to leave; somewhere along the way it got nicknamed the ‘Healy Hotel’. Besides the fact that my parents were extremely warm and welcoming to all, the sense of acceptance and serenity that surrounded the house was surely embodied in part by the Blessed Mother.


My dad is now in heaven with Our Lady, smiling down on his family as they honor Mary, making sure they are keeping her in their daily life. I too share with my children the great gift of the rosary that Mary has given us and how it’s one of the most useful tools they will have in their life, a secret weapon we are blessed to have as a Catholic family. One of my favorite novenas is  “Our Lady, Undoer of Knots”. I like to think of the rosary in this way because life often gets tangled and knotted but can get unknotted by carrying faith, hope, and love and praying to our Mother Mary, who will carry all our worries to Jesus.


When the Heralds of the Gospel visited each classroom with the sacred statue of Our Lady of Fatima, it brought me great joy to see my students have this special message about their mother Mary explained to them in this way. Each child was asked to speak directly to Mary as they approached the statue and hug her or kiss her like they would if she was right there in front of them in person. They told the children to ask Mary to be the “queen of their life and their family.” We were also blessed to have Father Joseph Illo, the Awad’s great uncle, celebrate Mass with us this month. Father reminded our students to always count on Mary and pray to her often. He shared a personal story about a time he prayed the rosary for Mary to help him find the right path and concluded by encouraging the students that when they lose their way, pray the rosary and ask Mary to help find the right path. There is always a way to get back on the right path to Heaven and Mary will always lead you there.


Although the month of Mary is ending let us always remember that Our Mother Mary will always have compassion for us and keep us connected to God. She will always bring joy to our life and give us the grace to handle any obstacle thrown at us. Whether it’s during my morning commute to school to set the tone for the day ahead and get my children to stop arguing or when I go for a walk or jog to de-stress, I always find time in my busy life to say the rosary and share my thoughts with Mary. The Rosary is her gift to us and it is calming and soothing. The repetitive rhythm of the rosary helps me maintain the rhythm of life. It helps me focus and see clearly what I must prioritize in my life. Consequently, it often leaves me with an undeniable urge to go visit Jesus; to find a nearby chapel that has Adoration, where my soul can feel fully nourished and restored.


AUTHOR: Katie Elliffe, Kindergarten Assistant Teacher

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