‘Rosary parties’ build community, pass on tradition

As guests pull into the driveway of Adam and Leah Brix’s house just outside of Rockville on the first Friday of each month, they might think it looks like many other rural homes with its green acres, red outbuildings and kids running around.

When the couple opens wide the doors of their large shed, however, it quickly transforms to a sacred space as visitors reverently enter, taking a colorful rosary and quiet themselves as they prepare to pray the rosary together.

Some of the younger children play on the laps and at the feet of their parents, while others toddle freely as the rhythmic sound of voices praying the “Hail Mary” floats softly on the breeze.

Tony Kneir and his daughter, Emily, pray during the gathering. (Photo by Dianne Towalski / The Visitor)

These “rosary parties,” as the Brixes refer to them, have been happening for just about a year. Guests arrive about 6 p.m. and the kids play for about half an hour. At 6:30 p.m., they stop and gather in the large shed to pray the rosary together, with each family taking turns praying the Hail Mary.

After the prayer, the group enjoys a potluck meal followed by more play and socializing.

“We just found a hunger in our community and are doing our part in satisfying it,” said Leah, whose parents instilled in her a love of the rosary.

“It is so important for children to see their parents praying together,” she said. “That is something that leaves an imprint for life. The kids see their parents with their heads bowed down in prayer, then later in the evening laughing and enjoying the friendship of others there.

“As a mother, I am loving that my kids are building friendships with the children of our friends that have many of the same values that we have,” she said. “There are so many distractions pulling families apart; this is one thing that draws them back together.”

Reaching out to others

It all started in the spring of 2016 when Leah gathered a group of about 30 women from her parish cluster, which includes Immaculate Conception in Rockville, St. Wendelin in Luxemburg and Holy Cross in Pearl Lake, as well as some family and friends to celebrate the feast day of Our Lady of Fatima.

While she was pleased with the turnout and the fellowship that followed, she wanted to do something more.

“Over the summer, my husband and I spent a lot of time praying about what to do next,” Leah said.

“We really felt like God was calling us to do more. Women’s ministry is very important to me, but as a wife and mother, family ministry is more important. Several of the women had to get babysitters to come to the rosary party and while it was a very good thing, it still ended up splitting up the family for the night. We decided that we needed to do something for the whole family.”

In September, Adam and Leah kicked off the first “rosary party,” inviting neighbors and fellow parishioners mostly by word of mouth.

“We received several messages from people before our first one asking if they were still welcome even if they had never prayed a rosary before and we said, ‘Yes!’” Leah said. “That is exactly why we are doing this — to introduce it to those who don’t know it, and to have those that have forgotten it to fall in love with it again.”

Passing on the tradition

Josh and Lisa Pikula and their five children ranging in age from two to 14, have attended nearly every month since the parties began last fall.

“We try to do family rosary nights at home with our family at least once a week,” Josh Pikula said. “When we heard about this, we thought it might help us get to know other people while doing something we might normally do as a family.”

Avery Berg asks his dad, Aaron, a question about his rosary before the families gathered began to pray. (Photo by Dianne Towalski / The Visitor)

Josh said he and Lisa want to pass the tradition of praying the rosary on to their children.

“Praying together is always a good thing. It gets more families involved, especially the next generation. We hope we can keep them involved the way our parents kept us involved in the church,” he said.

Adam Brix agrees.

“We are called to take our faith out of the church,” he said. “Our church is our family. This is something that can be inviting, welcoming, an invitation once a month to come together and pray and hopefully, encourage others to pick up the habit of praying the rosary together.

“We just want our kids to grow up not being strangers to the rosary. Having that exposure when they’re young hopefully will help them continue with it or come back to it as adults,” he said.

Adam feels inspired that more people have heard about their little gatherings and have felt comfortable coming out to their home. About 35 parents and children attended the July 7 gathering.

“The more the merrier,” he said. “We keep getting new people, it hasn’t gone backwards. People could be anywhere on a Friday night and they are still choosing to come here so that’s encouraging.”

The structure hasn’t changed much since it began but he said the community has grown closer.

“It’s gotten a little deeper. And it’s something I look forward to. We just love it. It fits us,” he said.

Leah said it also holds her accountable in her own faith life.

“It challenges me to make sure that I get at least one rosary in a day because I want to make sure that I am practicing what I preach,” she said. “It is fun to see the excitement and anticipation as we prepare as a family for the party each month. It is something that the kids really look forward to. It has strengthened many of our friendships. When God is at the center of a relationship, it really becomes a beautiful thing.”

About Kristi Anderson

Kristi Anderson is a multimedia reporter for The Visitor newspaper.

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