Next rosary rally will bring Catholics together on Sept. 15 in Kansas City, Kan.
by Joe Bollig
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Anthony Cresswell would rather chew on his rosary than pray with it, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. When you’re having a family rosary, you participate the best way you can.
One-year-old Anthony is toddling along in the footsteps of his older siblings. Each of them — Grace, 10; Nora, 9; and Sean, 6 — got their first exposures to the rosary while sitting wide- eyed (or squirming) on the laps of their parents, Dave and Rosie Cresswell, while they prayed the rosary.
Father Patrick Peyton, CSC, the “rosary priest” who coined the phrase “The family that prays together stays together,” no doubt would approve.
On Sept. 15, the Cresswells will be among many who will gather at St. Patrick Parish in Kansas City, Kan., at 6 p.m. for an evening of Eucharistic Adoration and Global Living Rosary. The outdoor devotions will be led by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, with participation by Wyandotte County Catholic youths and families from throughout the Greater Kansas City metropolitan area. All Catholics are encouraged to attend.
Another Eucharistic Adoration and Global Living Rosary will take place at 7 p.m. on Oct. 24 at Christ the King Parish in Topeka.
The largest event, which will gather Catholics from northeast Kansas, northwest Missouri, and beyond, will take place in May 2008 at Kaufmann Stadium, formerly known as Royals Stadium, in Kansas City, Mo.
“Anytime Catholics can pray together is a good thing,” said Rosie Cresswell. “ I think [the event] will be a good time to share our faith with a family that is much greater than our own.”
Straight from the heart
A convincing case could be made that, of all the devotions recorded in Christian history, the rosary is the most beloved. While locality, culture, or a particular saint defines some devotions, the rosary is nearly universal among Catholics. While non-Catholic Christians sometimes pray the rosary, the rosary is recognized as distinctly Catholic.
“For centuries the rosary has been at the core or heart of the church’s devotional life,” said Msgr. Michael Mullen, pastor of St. Patrick Parish. “The rosary centers on Christ and his mother, Mary, so in an effective way it keeps us in touch with those mysteries of their lives.”
While the first benefit of the rosary is that it leads us to focus on the lives of Jesus and Mary, there are other benefits as well, said Msgr. Mullen. The second benefit of the rosary is that it can promote unity.
“So at home, in the parish, with sodalities like the Legion of Mary, and in a parish, the rosary helps bond the church together by helping us experience Christ as a community,” he said.
A third benefit of the rosary is that it can prepare us for the sacraments.
“If on a daily basis we pray the rosary, I think that would lead us to participate with greater insight, commitment and prayerfulness in the core of the church’s spirituality, which consists of the Eucharist and the sacraments,” he said.
Finally, the rosary can strengthen the family.
“Father Peyton’s famous statement — ‘The family that prays together, stays together’ — has been proven true time and again,” said Msgr. Mullen. “Children see the parents in prayer and learn that prayer is an adult thing to do, and a priority. Yes, [the children] have sports and studies, but when prayer becomes a priority, that will shape their lives for years to come.”
“Prayer like the rosary also helps youths discover their vocations in life,” he added. “It helps them listen to God’s calling to the single life, the priesthood or consecrated life.”
The repetitive nature of the rosary makes it easy for children to learn to say it and contributes to a sense of order and calm in its recitation.
“My two older kids will pray the rosary with me while we’re in the car,” said Marie Martinez, a member of St. Patrick Parish. “The younger ones don’t join in as much, but they know all the prayers.
“Even though they’re not verbalizing, they are internalizing the prayers.”
Why a “Global Living Rosary”?
This new rosary movement — jointly sponsored by the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas and the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph — needs to be seen in a context that includes not only individuals and parishes, but society as well, said Msgr. Mullen.
He cited a speech given by Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia last April at the National Catholic Educational Association convention, held in Baltimore. In his address, the cardinal said that “secularization tries to relegate Christian faith to the margins of life as if it were irrelevant to everyday affairs.”
These jointly sponsored devotions are an explicit counter to this secularizing agenda. Participants will be challenged to continue the rosary in their families.
“I think the value of what we’re doing is to bring back to the fore a very valuable tradition in the church,” said Msgr. Mullen. “I think we do need a renewal in devotional life and family prayer, and that’s part of the reason we’re doing this — to show the benefits.”
“By people coming together, to do this as a group, gives the inspiration and strength to others to [begin to pray family rosaries] on their own,” he continued. “They may have thought about it, but now they can begin to do it. In other words, to keep Christ in the center of their lives and not pushed to the margins of their own lives or of society.”