The “Year of the Rosary” declared by Pope John Paul II ended in October 2003. Yet based on the high volume of rosary-related events at Southern Tier parishes last month, it appears that the pope’s wishes for greater rosary devotion have had a lasting effect.
This focus on the rosary is coming none too soon, stated Cindy Kingston, president of the Altar/Rosary Society at St. James Church in Waverly.
“It has kind of fallen by the wayside, and I don’t feel we’re getting as much training or hearing the benefits of the rosary,” Kingston said, adding that her group strives toward “anything we can do to help get the rosary out there in the public.”
To that end, St. James hosted a Living Rosary on Oct. 19. With a large, flower-adorned statue of the Blessed Mother serving as a backdrop, numerous participants helped lead the rosary prayers. “They continued a chain, one right after the other,” Kingston said.
Another Living Rosary was held Oct. 4 at St. Mary of the Lake Church in Watkins Glen, with the United for Life Committee at Schuyler Catholic Community (St. Mary of the Lake and St. Benedict in Odessa) serving as organizer. According to Barbara Malina, a committee member, the Oct. 4 gathering mirrored the Living Rosary held at St. Mary of the Lake in January 2004 to denote the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the United States.
These rosaries have gone over so well, Malina said, that “we’ve had people saying we should do it every month.” She added that another Living Rosary is likely to occur around the time of the next Roe v. Wade anniversary Jan. 22.
The Oct. 4 Living Rosary featured the distribution of roses that had been blessed and placed at the Blessed Mother’s statue. “There were all ages — several young people,” said Malina, noting a young girl from the parish, Quincy Powers, handed out the roses.
A blend of youth and adults have also marked other recent rosary-related happenings in the Tier. At Elmira’s Our Lady of Lourdes Church, the parish’s Legion of Mary combined with Holy Family Intermediate School for rosary recitation on Friday afternoons during October, with students leading the prayers. And at St. Ann’s Church in Hornell, adults and youths teamed up to create a new sandstone dust walkway in the church’s rosary garden.
Meanwhile, in Elmira, members of the St. Anthony/St. Patrick Sacred Heart Ladies Group helped children in the cluster’s faith-formation program make rosaries Oct. 17. This first-time effort involved more than 30 students of elementary-school age who got to keep the rosaries they made. Rose Bennett, St. Anthony/St. Patrick faith-formation coordinator, reported that the children were quiet and serious as they assembled the beads.
“It was unbelievable. They were so intent on making the rosary — the ladies, they couldn’t believe it,” Bennett said.
Bennett added the project was a valuable experience: “Children really need to know about the traditions of our church. The rosary is one of the oldest and most beautiful traditions.”
That importance of passing on that tradition also was emphasized at the Oct. 19 Living Rosary in Waverly. Guest speaker Sister Mary Walter Hickey, RSM, principal of Elmira Notre Dame High School, stressed the importance of instructing youths about the rosary. Organizers distributed brochures on how to pray the rosary and how to explain the devotion to children, and those who attended were encouraged to take all the rosaries they wanted — free of charge — courtesy of the Altar/Rosary Society.
Pope John Paul announced a renewed emphasis on rosary devotion in October 2002, adding five mysteries to the rosary. Kingston, for one, hopes people will take the pope’s message to heart — not only during October and May, which are traditional rosary months, but in daily life as well.
“It’s not just the Altar/Rosary Society, but the highest person in our church who supports and encourages this,” Kingston said.
Along with the special October rosary happenings, regular rosary devotion occurs in many Southern Tier parishes. For instance, Malina noted that the rosary is prayed on most weekdays in Schuyler Catholic Community churches. The rosary is also recited each weekday after morning Mass at St. Mary Our Mother Church in Horseheads, noted Father Christopher Linsler, pastor, in an Oct. 10 bulletin column on rosary devotion.
“It is a way of occupying our minds, to slow down, and focus on prayer,” Father Linsler wrote. “It is a great way to calm one’s spirits and to take us into the heart of God.”Tags: Catholic Beliefs