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Don't despair of Catholic primary schools — I know one that’s found a great way to get children to pray


Sometimes we all need a little encouragement to cultivate good habits.

rosarykids5I have written here before about "St Gemma Galgani's".  This is the pseudonymous, but otherwise very real, Catholic primary school our 5-year-old daughter attends in the southern reaches of Birmingham Archdiocese.

To continue my previous theme, here's an (ageing memory-permitting) verbatim transcript of a recent conversation we had on the way home one afternoon.

Daddy!  Guess what?  The Rosary Lady at school knows who you are."

Ummm, ok. What "Rosary Lady"?

"There's a lady at school who comes in every Wednesday to help us pray."

Oh, how lovely.  How does she do that?

"Well… if you want to, you can go out to the Mary Garden, and pray the Rosary with her.  You say the Our Father, and the Glory Be, and lots of Hail Marys.  And guess what?"


"She has LOADS of different coloured rosaries.  I can't remember all the colours.  I can only remember red."

[Suitably impressed.] Wow.

"And do you know what?"


"You don't HAVE TO go and pray the rosary with her, but if you DO, do you know what happens?"



Not surprisingly, there's a great deal I like about this.  The school's — and critically, local parishoners' — willingness to nurture the prayer life of its students, and to do so in a traditionally Catholic way, is an obvious plus.

So too, is the, er, "realistic" recognition of that people (let's not pretend this is exclusive to children) benefit from incentives to cultivate such good habits.  Grace perfects nature, and all that.

As I've said before, perhaps this isn't typical of every Catholic primary school.  Though, equally, I doubt it's quite so rare as one is sometimes led to fear.



spiesStephen Bullivant. "Don't despair of Catholic primary schools — I know one that's found a great way to get children to pray." Catholic Herald (July 6, 2017).

Reprinted with permission of the Catholic HeraldThe Catholic Herald is a London-based magazine, established as a newspaper in 1888 and published in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland.

The Author

bullivant bullivant1Dr. Stephen Bullivant is Senior Lecturer in Theology and Ethics at St Mary's University, England. A former atheist, he studied philosophy and theology at Oxford University, and converted to Catholicism while completing his doctorate on Vatican II and the salvation of unbelievers. In 2010, he was the first non-American to receive the "LaCugna Award for New Scholars" from the Catholic Theological Society of America. Stephen writes and speaks extensively on the theology and sociology of atheism, and the new evangelization. He recent books include: The Trinity: How Not to Be a Heretic, Faith and Unbelief, and The Salvation of Atheists and Catholic Dogmatic Theology. He has co-authored The Oxford Handbook of Atheism and edited Theology and Power: International Perspectives.  

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