In October, a group of Catholic Studies students at Seton Hall took their class discussion to heart—and to soul—and put it into action. The result? An ongoing weekly opportunity for communal prayer of the Rosary—the Tuesday Night Rosary—for all members of the University community. This new initiative responds to the need this group of students identified through prayer, reflection, conversations with peers, and analytical discussion in class.
In this semester’s Senior Seminar in Catholic Studies, Ines Murzaku, Ph.D., Director of Catholic Studies, and her students engaged in deep discussion about public prayer, and about praying with the support of and in community with others. "The discussion itself led us all to new insights about our own experience of prayer," explained Murzaku, "and the students shared how their readings for the course and their personal experience coincided—deepening their desire for increased opportunities for shared prayer. I am so gratified that our course discussion has led to fruitful action on our campus." Murzaku said that Kennedy Dierks ’23, a Biology and Catholic Studies major, took the reins, and with her fellow students, she pursued the establishment of a group that would pray the Rosary weekly on campus.
Dierks explained her motivation: "I was largely inspired by the discussion on prayer in our Senior Seminar class for Catholic Studies. We were talking about silence and solitude with God, and I realized how often I am alone when I pray, when I could be united in prayer with others. After engaging in discussion with my peers about our personal prayer experiences and habits, I realized that saying the Rosary together could be a great opportunity to bring our community together in prayer."
Dierks and her classmates mentioned their class discussion to Fr. Nicholas C. Sertich, Director of Campus Ministry, who fully supported the idea and encouraged the students to pursue it. "Not only is a student-led Rosary an excellent way for the members of our community to take a pause from the sometimes-hectic nature of our schedules, but it’s also a wonderful way to engage our students in the art of prayer," Fr. Sertich explained. "For centuries, praying the Rosary has had such an impact on the lives of so many of the saints who have gone before us, especially Mother Seton. Hopefully this same prayer will have the same impact on the lives of our students, who walk in the footsteps of Mother Seton and all the saints."
Historically, the Rosary has been prayed communally at Seton Hall, but there has not been a formal Rosary group on campus in recent years. Alan Delozier, D. Litt., Humanities and Outreach Librarian & Adjunct Associate Professor of Catholic Studies, explained that "there were instances of Rosary recitation recognition within the activities of various groups on campus through the years. In addition, there were likely informal gatherings and individual Rosary recitations in the Chapel over the years, but this new initiative, a weekly Rosary recitation involving all interested students, is unique in recent decades." Delozier has found evidence on the 1907-1908 academic calendar of "Special Devotions in honor of the Holy Rosary" taking place during the month of October, and the current Rosary group is following in that tradition from more than a century ago.
"The establishment of this Rosary group was truly an answer to prayer—prayer that grew from analytical discussion and lived experience," Murzaku explained. "This group formed during October, the Month of the Rosary, and sets up opportunities for a prayerful academic year."
Jackie Ballard ’23, who is majoring in Diplomacy and Catholic Studies, has been involved in the initiative, and she explained shared: "The rosary is a powerful prayer, called a 'spiritual weapon' by many saints. Throughout my time at Seton Hall, I’ve come to realize the truth of this statement, and grown to love the Rosary because of the relationship that it helps me build with Mama Mary and Jesus. I’m excited for this Rosary group, especially because it allows our community to offer this prayer together and hopefully share the beauty of the Rosary with the whole campus."
The students who worked to form the group welcome the participation of others. Since many of them are seniors, they are excited to pass the torch to other students next year. As Dierks expressed, "Hopefully, as our group grows, we can begin to take specific intentions for our weekly Rosary and incorporate more leaders. I am excited to see what this group becomes as we grow in our faith as a Seton Hall community."
The Rosary group meets every Tuesday at 9:30 p.m. in the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception, and all are invited to attend and join in prayer.