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

A child holds rosary beads (Getty Images)

I 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.