The “Rosary 10” are on a quest for peace
By Dyann Nashton
Sun contributing writer
It started out as a song. Then it was two songs. Then with music resonating in their hearts, just a handful of Most Holy Rosary School’s children decided they could light up the world for peace.
According to music teacher Barbara Holzhauer, the children were working on the two songs as part of their Christmas concert repertoire. One was entitled “Candle for Peace” and the other was “When the Lights all Shine.” The songs inspired second-grade students to propose that everyone in the world light a candle for peace at the same time.
“That’s a big order,” Holzhauer said. The fifth and sixth graders then said that perhaps they could just start with Onondaga County. “It was so sweet that they thought that all of Onondaga County was so small in relation to the world,” she said.
Holzhauer did not want to put a damper on the kind gesture and continued to discuss the matter with the children. “I never thought when I chose these songs that it would go in this direction. What’s amazing is that these children were really listening to the lyrics and they believe in it.”
The concept came on the heels of another service project the school community had recently completed. They collected and donated goods to Project Hospitality to help Staten Island families recover from the storm aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Students really internalized the message of helping others in need, she said.
Although the entire school will be involved in Light a Candle for Peace, fewer than a dozen fifth and sixth grade students embraced the idea and are responsible for propelling it forward. Known as the Rosary 10, the students began meeting several times a week to discuss the project. “They really took it upon themselves to push this,” Holzhauer said.
The students are asking the public to step outdoors at their own homes on Wednesday, December 19 and Light a Candle for Peace from 8:00 to 8:05 p.m. A press release, written by the students themselves, includes a vow they would like everyone to take: By lighting one small candle you can join our pledge to work with others to create peace in our community as well as the world.
“It’s just escalated. It’s gotten so huge,” said Holzhauer. The project has gained media attention which then prompted Unity Church on Syracuse’s Seneca Turnpike to send a note to Holzhauer notifying the school that the church’s upcoming service will feature a sermon on “Blessed are the peacekeepers” while encouraging the congregation to join the Rosary 10 in their quest for peace. In addition, another caller offered to provide floating luminaries to launch the prayers for peace skyward. Holzhauer said the school is looking into finding a spacious outdoor venue in order to take advantage of the offer, she said.
“I’m getting all these phone calls now. It’s showing our children that they can make a difference,” she said.
Maria Lerch, a second grade teacher at the school, said her son, Isaiah, is in fifth grade and is a member of Rosary 10. “I’m just so proud that he’s thinking about the world and things on a global level and about what really matters and is important,” she said. She described how the children happily gave up their recess time to promote the project by making posters.
The St. Joseph’s Church, Camillus, parishioner said that the pride Isaiah feels in being a part of the project is evident when he talks about it to family and friends. She said Isaiah’s family all over the country from Washington, D.C. to Long Island and Connecticut were excited to learn about the project and have vowed to light candles themselves.
“The children know that this is a small step,” she said, and added that Isaiah and his schoolmates will likely feel good just knowing that other people are out there lighting candles.
“It just shows us that no matter what presents we think we want for Christmas, the gift we really need and want is peace,” Lerch said.