Each day children, accompanied by their parents, leaders, teachers or priests or religious, come to the chapel for a little visit, prayer or to better understand the message of the Chapel of the Miraculous Medal.
The young pilgrims are welcomed by a Daughter of Charity. Depending on their age the Sister presents the message of the chapel with a video, a cartoon, a 15 minute video or the complete video of 30 minutes. Next they can ask questions, sometimes quite diverse, of the Sister: “Why did the Blessed Virgin choose this chapel? Why did Mary appear to a Daughter of Charity?” Other questions go beyond the apparitions, such as, “Why are you a Daughter of Charity?” or, “What do the Sisters do?” or about our family, or any topic in life. All of the children are touched by the closeness of Saint Catherine to Mary during the first apparition, as well as the apparition of the Virgin of the globe. With these questions about the globe representing the world and each one in particular, they ask, “Are the good and the bad together?”
Following our sharing, they a given a medal, sign of God’s love, freely given for each of us, which the children like very much. “May I have a medal for my brother, also? For my mother?” etc.
After this time in the video room the little ones are invited to go to the chapel and to pray at the foot of the altar, which they do with great fervor.
Each Wednesday during the school year there is a “Rosary Workshop” for children ages 6-10, no more than 30 at a time. This activity lets them have a spiritual experience here at the chapel. All Christians who love the Blessed Virgin pray the Rosary. The activity starts with a short, “Hail Mary”. Then, in a way adapted for children, either video or illustrations, a Sister presents the life of Saint Catherine Labouré, how she loved Mary and chose her to be her mother. And also how she began her life in close relation with Jesus from the time of her First Communion.
Next, with the help of volunteers, the children each make a Rosary. The Vincentian priest explains to them how to pray the Rosary using illustrations of the Mysteries which help them to understand all of the life of Jesus. It is not just repeating the Hail Mary’s but contemplating the life of Jesus with Mary.
The group then goes to the chapel to pray the Rosary with the pilgrims. Each decade is said by two different children with the priest. At the end of the Rosary they bring a small candle to the altar for a brief moment of adoration; it is Mary who leads us to Jesus. The children like being able to be close to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. It is a truly special time for them that they have never experienced before. The activity is finished with the priest giving each of the children a Miraculous Medal.
The groups who come to the chapel are very diverse: in size and interest. They go from simple parents with their children to large groups up to a hundred at a time. They are groups at the beginning or the end of their catechism, preparation for First Communion, for Confirmation, a day of retreat, Mass servers, children belonging to different movements. Students from various schools come with their teachers as they discover very important places for Catholic Christians.
The presence of children gives the chapel a certain youthfulness, a vitality full of hope. “Catherine was lead to the chapel by a little child.” Today could we not say that the Blessed Virgin uses the young children to bring people, “to the foot of the altar”?