Prayers for peace: Macau’s Catholic schools answer Pope Francis’ call to pray the Rosary

Marco Carvalho

Almost two dozen children, accompanied by their catechists and a few parents, prayed for world peace and unity on October 18th at the Cathedral of the Nativity of Our Lady, as part of the worldwide prayer marathon promoted by the Aid to the Church in Need Pontifical Foundation (ACN Foundation).

The initiative, Father Daniel Ribeiro told O Clarim, was observed by the local Portuguese-speaking Catholic community for the second year in a row. In 2021, a handful of people joined the campaign, the Brazilian priest recalls.

“This praying crusade is promoted by the Aid to the Church in Need Foundation and as far as the Portuguese-speaking community of the Cathedral parish is concerned, this was the second consecutive year that the community joined the process,” the Dehonian missionary explains.

“Last year, this initiative was also hosted in the Cathedral of the Nativity of Our Lady, but there were fewer people praying the Rosary due to Covid-19 associated restrictions that were then effective. This year, this initiative began at around 5.15 pm, and we started by recalling the history and the purpose of this campaign. Then, we prayed the Rosary with the children, their catechists, some parents and other family members. We had around 15 children taking part in the event,” Father Ribeiro told O Clarim.

The Lusophone Catholic community was the first to join this initiative, but it is no longer alone in Macau in joining a global prayer crusade that is gaining more and more followers all over the world. As he did in 2021, Pope Francis encouraged, once again, the faithful to join the “One Million Children Praying the Rosary” campaign. The pontiff’s appeal did not fall on deaf ears in Macau. Bishop Stephen Lee Bun-Sang ordered the campaign to be observed in the local Catholic schools. Saint Joseph’s Secondary School N°3, where Father Ribeiro serves as a chaplain, was no exception. The Brazilian priest prayed the Rosary with some of the students, teachers and employees of the institution.

“This year, the Chinese community – namely schools that make up Saint Joseph’s Diocesan School, also joined the initiative. At Saint Joseph’s N°3, where I serve as a chaplain, there were 13 children who prayed, along with a handful of teachers and employees of the schools,” the vicar of the Cathedral parish says.

“This initiative was also observed there. The students prayed during the lunch period. This campaign shows that unity is possible. It shows that children all over the world are by the Pope’s side,” the Dehonian priest considers.

The Rosary was prayed in several other local schools and teaching establishments, particularly those that are under the direct supervision of the Diocese of Macau. At Santa Rosa de Lima College, where the daily recitation of the Rosary is a common practice both in May and in October, people – students and teachers – prayed on October 18th with a focus on global peace and unity. In the English section of the college, the Rosary was prayed inside the classrooms, with students and teachers momentarily exchanging study for prayer.

In Saint Joseph’s Secondary School N°6, situated in Ilha Verde, Father Cyril Law was joined by about seven dozen students. Three hundred more took part in the global prayer campaign at Saint Joseph’s N°5 in Our Lady of Fatima parish. All in all, Father Law – the current chancellor of the Diocese of Macau – believes that around 3,000 local children joined the prayer initiative fostered by the Aid to the Church in Need Foundation.

Macau was one of 134 countries and territories worldwide that acceded to Pope Francis’ appeal and joined the global journey of prayer. According to preliminary figures collected by the ACN Foundation, the “One Million Children Praying the Rosary” crusade mobilized at least 824,000 people around the world. In addition to Macau, the global prayer campaign took place in places such as Portugal, Mozambique and South Sudan or Liberia. According to the organizers, the engagement of Portuguese-speaking communities was particularly significant.

“This was the case in Mozambique with the Rosary being prayed, for instance, in the dioceses of Pemba and Niassa, or in the diocese of Macau in China. Through the Portuguese delegation of the ACN Foundation, other prominent groups were also mobilized in several other countries, namely in the African continent. The Diocese of Wau, South Sudan, or the parish of St. John Vianney in Foya, Liberia, are good examples of this,” the Aid to the Church in Need Foundation says in a press release.

The 2022 edition of the global prayer campaign “One Million Children Praying the Rosary” was first promoted by the Pontifical Foundation since the beginning of the war in Ukraine. The conflict in Eastern Europe was brought to mind in many of the nations that joined the event.

In Portugal, at the Sanctuary of Fátima, the plight of the Ukrainian people was not forgotten. Among the hundreds of people who prayed at the “altar of the world” were several Ukrainian families, “showing flags of their country, and some children from this community even took part in the prayer of one of the mysteries, reciting their prayers in their native language,” the ANC Foundation’s press release states.

The genesis of the “One Million Children Praying the Rosary” campaign dates back to 2005 and to one of the largest shrines in Caracas, the capital city of Venezuela. After a few dozen children participated in the recitation of the Rosary, some of the women that were there claimed they felt a profound presence of Our Lady. One of them had the intuition to challenge children from all over the world to a journey of prayer, based on one of Padre Pio’s most remarkable phrases: “When a million children pray the Rosary, the world will change.”