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Photo: Chris Sparks
Around the World in 84 Shrines
By Chris Sparks (Jul 21, 2014)
Some people travel around the world by airplane. We've just done it by Rosary.
On June 27, the feast of the Sacred Heart, the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy joined 83 other Marian shrines and places of prayer around the world in the Fifth Annual Global Rosary Relay for Priests, sponsored by Worldpriest, Inc.
Each of the 84 participating shrines in 46 countries prayed a particular set of mysteries of the Rosary at a particular half hour on the feast of the Sacred Heart in thanksgiving to God for our priests and to implore the protection and loving care of Our Lady, Mother of all priests, for all her priestly sons.
"We want to unite our voices as one, lifting them up to God, for all the priests in the world. They need our prayers," said event coordinator Mary Kay Volpone, Fr. Joseph's special gifts officer at the Marian Helpers Center.
Marians and laity alike took turns leading the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary. Their prayers were guided by a series of special meditations and intentions, each surrounding different groups of priests and the particular challenges facing them.
Mary Kay brought the Rosary Relay to the attention of the Marians last year, and Shrine Rector Fr. Kenneth Dos Santos, MIC, welcomed the event. He viewed it as another example of the collaboration between the Marians and the laity, which the Marian Founder and Renovator considered so important to the Marians' service "Pro Christo et Ecclesia" (For Christ and His Church).
When asked what fruits he hoped to see from the Rosary Relay, Fr. Dos Santos responded immediately, "Holiness of priests. That's what we really need, and I hope that it allows grace to come to a priest who is fledgling in his vocation and that he's strengthened in his vocation."
Nancy Prezenik, a parishioner at nearby St. Joseph's in Pittsfield, Mass., and a member of the Mother of Divine Mercy prayer group, attended the Rosary Relay with other members of the prayer group. "Anything of Mary, we are more than willing to come and take part in," Nancy explained. "Mary is so good to us, she's such a good mother, so we try to reciprocate in our little way. And of course this is for our priests — they need all the prayer they can get. The Blessed Mother's always telling us to pray for priests, pray for your shepherds, they need your prayers."
In fact, one of the charisms of the Mother of Divine Mercy prayer group is to pray for priests, Nancy confirmed. Why? "Because they are instruments of the Lord, and given that, they are under attack by the other side all the time."
Father Kazimierz Chwalek, MIC, the provincial superior for the Marians in the United States and Argentina, said, "I think it's just absolutely incredible that we have been chosen to be part of the Rosary Relay." He commented on how appropriate it was to be praying for priests at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy, quoting Jesus' words from the Diary of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska: "I desire that priests proclaim this great mercy of Mine towards souls of sinners. Let the sinner not be afraid to approach Me. The flames of mercy are burning Me-clamoring to be spent; I want to pour them out upon these souls" (50; see also 177, 570, 687, 1521, 1585).
The National Shrine of The Divine Mercy wasn't the only shrine administered by the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception to take part in the Rosary Relay for Priests. The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Licheń in Poland, one of the largest churches in the world, also took part.
In a providential coincidence, another place of worship very close to one of the Marian priests also took part. "Marian Vicar General Fr. Joseph Roesch, MIC's 22nd anniversary as a priest is today," explained Mary Kay before the Rosary Relay. "The parish that we are spiritually sending the Rosary Relay to tonight is Our Lady, Star of the Sea, his home parish! He went to grammar school, made his First Communion, was confirmed, and was ordained there."
Why do the Marians think the Rosary Relay is such an important initiative?
"It's a privilege to pray for priests," said Fr. Kaz. "Priests are those that are called by the Lord to serve Christ, to serve the Church, to proclaim the mission of salvation and to offer sacraments, especially the sacraments of Eucharist, Penance, and to administer the Sacrament of the Sick. All those things are incredible gifts. Without the sacraments, we don't have Christ present in a sacramental way, we don't have the Eucharist, so this is more than important."
Next year's Rosary Relay is scheduled for Friday, June 12, the Feast of the Sacred Heart. The Shrine plans on participating.
To learn more about this and other opportunities for prayer, liturgy, and devotions at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy, regularly visit the Shrine calendar. To support Marian vocations, visit here and also consider joining the Thirteenth of the Month Club.