Your Family Matters - Top 10 ways to make a family rosary a reality

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Praying together doesn’t have to be such a struggle

You know that the rosary is a powerful, Christ-centered prayer, and you would like to pray it as a family to bring its many benefits into your household. You envision a reverent domestic scene, gathering with your children around the family altar. They are purposefully fingering the appropriate beads and reciting the Hail Marys and Our Fathers with devotion. In Latin. Gregorian chant wafts softly in the background. Angels smile.

In reality, the children sprawl in various attitudes of beleaguered exhaustion on the couch and floor. Your tween daughter’s rosary is intricately woven between her fingers as if it were auditioning for a new career as brass knuckles. Whether you have eyeball-rolling teens or couch-acrobatic toddlers, here are 10 creative ideas for incorporating the rosary into your family’s daily routine in ways that are engaging, meaningful and, most importantly, doable.

1. The “Couch to 5K Rosary.” Couch potatoes build up the stamina to run 5K events with great success through the gradual and incremental increase of intensity of popular “Couch to 5K” programs. This is basically what my family did to build up to an (almost) daily habit of praying the rosary. Years ago, we began praying one decade a night. Over the course of a week, that’s a complete rosary! After a few years, we added another decade, then another, until we were up to the whole five decades.

2. The “Five Good Hail Marys Rosary.” This comes from local Catholic speaker and radio host Dr. Tom Curran and his family. If the children pray five “good” Hail Marys clearly, audibly and with a certain focus, the family proceeds to the Glory Be to finish that decade. Look for more great tips and ideas for family prayer on the Curran family’s new website.

3. The “Tell-About-It Rosary.” Tom’s wife, Kari Curran, developed this idea: Occasionally, instead of praying the Our Father and Hail Mary prayers, Mom and Dad prompt members of the family to describe what happens in the mystery for each decade.

4. The “Coloring Pages Rosary.” Younger children color pages that represent each mystery while the rest of the family prays aloud. You can buy a rosary coloring book or print pages from the Internet. Family Feast and Feria posts beautiful traditional rosary coloring pages online. Or try more contemporary coloring pages at Coloring is what keeps our 4-year-old quietly engaged while the rest of us pray. (Tip: I put the 2-year-old to bed before we begin. But some lucky families report that their little ones grow calm and sleepy during the family rosary.)

5. The “Book Rosary” and the “Scripture Rosary.” Our family enjoys Discover the Rosary Mysteries: An Adventure for Today’s Kids, by Brenda and George Nippert, available at The bright illustrations and story-style text for each Hail Mary bring the mysteries to life. Scriptural rosary books offer a verse from Scripture for each Hail Mary, demonstrating that the Rosary truly is a “Bible on beads.”

6. The “Candy Rosary.” Leave it to hilarious Heather Scheider of to share this unconventional idea. She has friends who feed their children marshmallows during the rosary. “How genius is this??” she asks. “Now they will always associate praying with s’mores.”

7. The “Rosary Walk.” If fitness is more your family’s thing, try praying a rosary while you take a walk together. Just try to stay within earshot of each other. Ambitious gardeners could create an outdoor rosary walk in their yard out of stepping-stone beads. This could be a great youth service project for a parish garden, too!

8. The “Video Rosary.” Our family has sometimes used video rosaries we’ve found on YouTube. An alternative is the “Audio Rosary.” Whether in the car or in the living room, a CD or mp3 can take the pressure off parents to keep the ship sailing forward. Holy Heroes has wonderfully produced, dramatized rosary CDs led by children.

9. The “Lace-Up Card Rosary.” Keep little fingers busy threading yarn or ribbon through holes that represent beads in’s printable DIY Lacing Rosary set. We received a set of these as a thank-you after a talk I gave, and they are a BIG HIT.

10. The “Sacred Story Rosary.” Have some maturing teens ready for something more intellectual, personal and meaty in their prayer? Feed their souls with inspiration from the book The Sacred Story Rosary: An Ignatian Way to Pray the Mysteries, by local Jesuit Father Bill Watson (  

Northwest Catholic - October 2015

Sarah Bartel

Sarah Bartel, a member of St. Andrew Parish in Sumner, holds a doctorate in moral theology and ethics from The Catholic University of America, where she specialized in marriage, family, sexual ethics and bioethics. Her website is