The Determination of a Child
When I was growing up, I really didn't like reciting the Holy Rosary. I remember the elders in our barangay (a small village in the Philippines) would visit our house every year in May when it was our family's turn to welcome the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary in our home to commemorate the Flores de Mayo (Flowers of May celebration). It is a famous Catholic tradition observed in our place where the statue of Mary goes from one house to another each day, and the host family welcomes people in the village to recite the Holy Rosary. Sometimes, I would go with my mother and join the same group of elders and their children in visiting some other houses, not because I like reciting the Rosary, but because I enjoyed being in the company of friends. At that time, I thought that praying the Rosary was boring and the idea that I have to say the Hail Mary 10 times five was too much for me.
It's been a year now since I started serving at the Hope Worker's Center (HWC) in Chungli City. I work as the immigrant coordinator and catechist for their children. The group's name is Chungli Association of Immigrants and Families (CAIF) where most of the members are Filipino mothers married to Taiwanese men. In one of our monthly meetings, the mothers have expressed their desire for their children to learn how to recite the Rosary. I have prepared the prayers in Chinese to be shared with both the children and the mothers. I encouraged them to learn it in Chinese as well so they can pray with their children at home.
Several months passed, and I still didn't have the chance to introduce reciting the Rosary among the children. I was hesitant because I was thinking that the kids might feel bored too–just like how I felt when I was the same age as them. I kept on postponing it until it just happened unexpectedly.
One Sunday afternoon, the HWC organized a forum for the immigrants and their spouses. I volunteered to babysit the smaller children so they wouldn't disturb their parents in the classroom. For almost four hours, I tried my best to entertain Chou Ting- Yu (she wants to be called Beauty)–or it would be more appropriate to say that she was the one who entertained us in the office. I convinced her to join the pottery workshop with some Filipino migrant workers who also serve as volunteers in the church. When she got bored, she insisted to teach me how to play some board games her way. And to everyone's amazement and surprise, Beauty finished reciting the Rosary!
It all started with her "inspecting" the catechism books that I have on my table and she found the coloring book on how to recite the Rosary. She asked me if she could take a look and further asked what it is all about. She confirmed with me that they hadn't yet learned about the rosary in class and I said she was right. I was really surprised when she asked me if she could try praying the Holy Rosary with me. With some bargaining and complaining in between (she wanted to give up after saying the first mystery and asked if we could have some snacks after saying the fourth mystery), we were able to finish reciting the Rosary, both feeling very accomplished! Everyone in the office clapped hands and said words of affirmation to Beauty. I believe she was happy, too and asked if the other children also knew how to recite it. She gave me a proud and wide smile when I said to her that she's the first one. She even asked when are we going to pray it again, and I just told her to bring her Rosary and guide every Sunday, and she always does.
I felt so inspired and blessed to have witnessed a 7-year-old girl who was determined to finish reciting the Holy Rosary. It's a bit embarrassing but humbling to say that this experience transformed me, especially my hesitation in teaching the children how to recite it. Now I feel excited to pray the Rosary with them. In fact, we have scheduled to recite it the second Sunday of each month.
Sherryl Lou C. Capili is a Columban lay missionary living and working in Taiwan.