EXETER — As the last “amen” resounded, eighth-grade classmates at Wyoming Area Catholic School released their grip on a over-size rosary fashioned from more than 50 biodegradable, helium-filled balloons and watched it float gently upward.
“It’s heart-warming,” said mom Linda Mangan, who came to the school on Friday afternoon to watch the seventh-annual, outdoor event. “It makes me want to cry.”
“It’s a beautiful project,” said another mom, Elaine Granteed. “It’s a visual expression of our faith.”
“It’s like you’re sending your prayers up to God,” Mangan said.
Wyoming Area Catholic principal Eileen Rischcoff said the program reinforces that idea for the students, and the school times the event to coincide with the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary on Oct. 7.
“I tell them we’re praying for peace,” Rischcoff said. “Peace in the world, peace in our town, peace in our families and peace in our hearts.”
Some of the eighth-graders confided before they started the prayers that they had extra, personal intentions.
Thirteen-year-old Grace Mangan, for one, said she’d be praying for “my grandmother. She’s my role model.”
Jayden Satkowski, also 13, said he’d be praying for his mom, who passed away two years ago after suffering an aneurysm.
Jayden said he believes his late mother, Amy, would be aware of and pleased by the rosary service, as would Mary, the mother of Jesus, whom he considers to be his mother, too.
“It’s so nice to watch this,” said another mom, Irene Kovaleski, as the airborne balloons — put together by the Exeter business Balloon Works by Party Zone — spiraled around each other and almost formed a heart shape, heading up toward a barely-visible crescent moon.
Kovaleski’s son, David, is in second grade and has several more years to participate in events similar to Friday’s program, during which younger students, clutching small rosaries of various colors, prayed along while the eighth-graders led each “Hail Mary,” “Our Father” and “Glory Be.”
Having a larger role as eighth-graders is something Caitlyn Maslar and Kayla Kovaleski, both 13, anticipated for years.
But holding the balloon rosary was “a little nerve-wracking,” Kayla said.
“If we let go (too soon),” Caitlyn said, “there’s a slim chance of getting it back.”