Catholic Student Association takes to campus after dark with walking rosary

Baylor rosary for the Baylor Catholic Student Association. Grace Everett | Photographer

By Olivia Turner | Staff Writer

Led by lamplight under a twilight sky on Tuesday, on the paths and roads of campus, around the quadrangle and Fountain Mall walked students with strings of rosary beads in their hands. They remembered and reflected on their Catholic faith as they walked, softly saying prayers, united with fellow members of their faith.

This walking rosary, although often unnoticed by others on campus, is a service offered by the Baylor Catholic Student Association one night a week. However, Ocean Springs, Miss., sophomore and Spiritual Life Officer of the association Gavriella Persing said Catholic students can and do pray with their rosaries more frequently than once a week.

“If we could, we’d do it every day,” Persing said.

A member of the Catholic church since birth and a current member of the Catholic Student Association, Persing said the group has been meeting for the walking rosary on Tuesdays outside of Alexander Hall for five years now.

The rosary itself, a set of beads resembling a necklace with a crucifix on the end, represents the five mysteries, or events in the life of Christ. It is marked by five larger beads amidst the smaller beads on the loop. On Tuesday, the mysteries said among several Hail Marys were The Sorrowful Mysteries: The Agony in the Garden, The Scourging at the Pillar, the Crowning of Thorns, The Carrying of the Cross and The Crucifixion. Persing said the prayers change each week for different reflection focuses.

The rosary’s meditative use of touching each bead in remembrance of the mysteries began with Saint Dominic, a Spanish priest from the 12th and 13th centuries.

“There were various traditions that he [Saint Domonic] kind of popularized and compiled,” said Waco sophomore and member of the Catholic Student Association James Foley.

Saint Michael’s prayer and the Fatima prayer were added to the end as years went by, according to Foley.

After the prayerful procession in the dark, the walk was concluded in the walkway of Draper Academic Building with a song, “The Hail Holy Queen,” also know as the “Salvē,” which the group sang in Latin a capella. The service closed with a memorare, a prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel, and an unofficial litany of saints which asks the saints to keep those of the group in their prayers.

According to the Office of Institutional Research, 16% of freshmen in the fall of 2022 identified as Catholic, a statistic which Persing said proves the need for organizations like the Catholic Student Association.

“A lot of students that are incoming don’t know that there’s a community for them, and so by having events like this where we do get to walk around campus and kind of show that the Catholic faith is here and really present, allows for people who are Catholic and know that we are here, to join us and find that community,” Persing said. “It also allows for people who maybe have happened to see us one day to really dive in and look at that and kind of explore all of the beauty and tradition that is Catholicism.”

Persing said she encourages anyone who is curious about the Catholic faith or who is looking for a Catholic community away from home to attend a walking rosary or a mass service, as well as various other fellowship opportunities the association offers, such as the recent Eucharist Procession which occurred on campus Sunday, complete with candles incense and bells.