Augusta first-graders release balloons in Our Lady of Guadalupe ceremony

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Children at St. Mary on the Hill School didn’t just pray the rosary on Monday, the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe. They sent one made out of balloons high into the sky.

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Mary Carla Sammons, Carolyn Cashin, and Eli Cosper, first grade students from St. Mary on the Hill Catholic School, watch the balloon rosary float into the air.  Zach Boyden-Holmes/Staff
Zach Boyden-Holmes/Staff
Mary Carla Sammons, Carolyn Cashin, and Eli Cosper, first grade students from St. Mary on the Hill Catholic School, watch the balloon rosary float into the air.

Nearly 50 first-graders crowded on to the playground of the Catholic school off Monte Sano Avenue on Monday afternoon. After praying one decade of the rosary together, they released the balloons, which floated off toward Highland Avenue, where they were spotted by staff and students at Aquinas High School.

Some of the 60 balloons were filled with helium, while others were blown up by the youth and held slips of prayers and the message “God Bless America.”

They’re meant to be reminders -- not just to the students, but all who see them -- that miracles happen.

“The whole entire world will get to see them,” said 7-year-old Caroline Jackson. “That’s really cool.”

The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe dates to 1531, when the Virgin Mary appeared to a peasant, Juan Diego, in a village outside Mexico City. She asked him to build a church on the spot where they were standing. Diego told his local bishop, who asked for proof. Mary told Diego to bring the bishop roses from a nearby bush. He wrapped them in his robe called a tilma and went to the bishop. When he opened his tilma, an image of Mary was imprinted on the cloth.

The cloth is displayed today in the Basilica of Guadalupe, one of the most frequently visited Catholic shrines in the world.

First-grader Jeb Bowles, 7, played the role of Juan Diego. He wore a tilma and dropped roses below a picture of Mary as the children released the balloons.

The idea for the balloon rosary came from parent volunteer Maura Jabaley, whose first-grader, Jonathan, attends St. Mary on the Hill. She received an e-mail a few weeks ago that showed an anti-abortion group releasing a balloon rosary in Chicago.

“We’re hoping that this becomes somewhat of a rite of passage for our first-graders,” she said. “It’ll be something they can look forward to.”

Principal Joe McBride said he was immediately on board.

“The kids are learning a lot about Mary and her significance to our faith,” he said. “It’s a hands-on way that they’re learning about their faith. They’re not just reading about it, but doing it.”

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BamaFanNGa
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BamaFanNGa 12/12/11 - 04:42 pm
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Come on AC who is your

Come on AC who is your proofreader? Ballons? Really? Get your act together.

stanley
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stanley 12/12/11 - 06:59 pm
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How can first graders pray

How can first graders pray "one decade of the rosary together"? I would love more information on this.

mbm
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mbm 12/13/11 - 12:44 am
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Stanley, One decade of the

Stanley,
One decade of the rosary is one Our Father prayer, ten Hail Mary prayers and one Glory Be prayer. The first grade children prayed these prayers all together. The rosary can be prayed individually in silence or in a group as in this case. The rosary is a prayer that helps us to meditate on the life of Christ. If you want more information on the rosary, I suggest you go to www.EWTN.com or other Catholic websites such as Catholic Answers. I hope this helps.

REDRIDER
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REDRIDER 12/13/11 - 07:44 am
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If you are not sure what a

If you are not sure what a decade of the Rosary means read.
Thanks Be to God.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosary

alumna
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alumna 12/13/11 - 09:11 am
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The Rosary is a series of 50

The Rosary is a series of 50 'Hail Marys' with the 'Our Father', 'Glory Be' and reflection the sacred mysteries intermixed. The 'Hail Mary is entirely biblically based in its wording, with a request for Mary, Jesus' mother to pray a prayer of intercession for us at the end. It goes like this:
'Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you.' (Luke 1:28)
'Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.' (Luke 1:42)
'Holy Mary, Mother of God' (Luke 1:43)
'Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen' (requesting her intercession to Jesus now and when we lay dying).
This prayer reminds Catholics of Mary's role in the altering of Jesus' ministry in which she asks Jesus to save the bridegroom at the wedding at Cana from extreme embarrasment when the wine runs out by changing the water into wine. We ask Mary to pray for us to Jesus because we know from the events at the wedding at Cana that Jesus so honors his mother that he will deny her nothing she requests. And we follow Jesus' example and honor her as well. @stanley, Catholics say prayers together at our weekly mass (Protestants call it service) and Catholic children learn to say prayers in unison both at home and at weekly mass. By the time they reach first grade, it comes very naturally for them to say 10 'Hail Marys' together, in unison.

alumna
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alumna 12/13/11 - 09:19 am
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This is a great idea for

This is a great idea for children to learn about the rosary! Great job, Maura!

alumna
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alumna 12/13/11 - 09:20 am
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And thanks to everyone else

And thanks to everyone else who participated and helped organize this event.

howcanweknow
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howcanweknow 12/17/11 - 10:53 am
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"Hail Mary is entirely

"Hail Mary is entirely biblically-based in wording." Well, it sort of flies in the face of the clear biblical teaching that Jesus Christ, and Christ alone, is the sole mediator between us and God. Nowhere in scripture are we ever instructed to seek the help of dead Christians in prayer. In fact, the Bible expressly forbids trying to contact dead humans. Christians are to pray through Christ, as it is the Holy Spirit who intercedes for us -- not Mary or anyone else. No other mediator is warranted or necessary.

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