Bulbs are blooming, and Easter is almost here. It's the time of year that many of us make bouquets out of a simple feeling of joy for a new spring.
Parishioners at St. Joseph's Catholic Community have made a different kind of bouquet, one more meaningful than any flowers could be. Throughout March and until April 7, parishioners have pledged to say the rosary in honor of the Rev. Ted Cassidy's 25th anniversary as a priest and his 36th anniversary as a Marionist.
Today is the anniversary of those momentous occasions.
"These bouquets were very popular during the '30s and '40s, when no one could afford to buy a gift," said Carmen Plante, a parishioner who organized the bouquet.
"There were at least 104 individual rosaries said, and some done by groups and families. Most of us would have to be dead to get that much prayer!"
Saying the rosary is a meaningful experience for those who take the time to do so. It is, in essence, a meditative exercise. The practice began in the Middle Ages as a way of allowing the laity -- Catholics who were not monks or priests -- who could not read to join in the daily prayers of the church.
The original rosaries were simply ropes knotted in patterns; the person saying the rosary said a prayer, usually a psalm or groups of Psalms, using the knots as an aid to memory. The laity thus could learn and remember a body of prayer that would have been impossible to memorize without the visual aid of a prayer book. The repetition of prayer is similar to saying a mantra in meditation.
Douglas Wilson, a St. Joseph's parishioner, made a card cover for Father Ted's "Bouquet Card," and Ms. Plante added a list of names and times of those dedicating the prayers. In this way, at any given time, Father Ted would know that someone was dedicating prayer in his honor.
Who would not like to be a king or queen and live in a castle?
A number of third-graders, members of Mrs. Dawn Zigmontas' class at Eldersburg Elementary learned that castles were often not what we imagine.
"Each month we have a different theme for classroom reading," Ms. Zigmontas said. "This month we learned a lot about castles. They really could be cold and drafty, and students thought about living in a place where lots of others worked and lived, too. It's very different from the way we live."
To top off the month's theme, the children designed and made castles of their own, using paper towel holders and other materials.
Reading to children is a great way to interest them in reading for themselves, and ownership of books is another way to impress upon them the joys of reading.
Children in Freedom Elementary School had a wonderful time last week shopping for their own books, as well as posters and pencils, in the school's annual book fair.
"We sold over $5,000 worth of books," said media specialist Nancy Greismeyer. "This really helps the school, as well as the children. We get 40 percent of the sales in cash and another 20 percent of the sales in books. The classes with the highest sales will get to choose books for their own classroom, and these will be available to the children in next year's class, too."
"I try to make it fun for everyone," Ms. Greismeyer said.
Those who did not shop chose books from the media center to read, or did word searches, picture puzzles and coloring activities.
Ms. Greismeyer said she is planning to buy new tape recorders and books for the media center with money raised at the book fair.