Think Globally, Pray Locally
On June 12, 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 Sixth 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.
"This is the third year the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy has taken part in this relay," said event coordinator Mary Kay Volpone. "It started in Siberia this morning at Our Lady of Magadan, and it's traveled around the world. It's the largest it's ever grown. Last year, Pope Francis gave his apostolic blessing to the rosary, and this is the second year the Vatican has actually participated in it."
"We're praying for priests, because as you know, we need priests to be able to celebrate the Sacraments, particularly the Holy Eucharist and Confession," she said.
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.
Among the Marian Helpers in attendance were Diane and Nicholas Saia, parishioners at Immaculate Conception Parish in Everett, Massachusetts. They have a track record of interceding for the Marians and for priests, not just at the Rosary Relay, but also back in 2014 at the time of the canonization of St. John Paul II. Diane has a great and abiding love of St. John Paul II, so of course they would go on pilgrimage to Rome for the canonization. But she didn't just travel with her husband. She brought the Marians along, as well.
She had received a picture in the mail of some of the Marian Fathers from the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy, Province, standing on the lawn in front of the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy.
"I said to my husband, 'I'm taking this with us,'" Diane recalled. "'I don't know where I'm putting it, but I'm taking this with us. Wherever I find fit, I'm going to leave it somewhere. God will show me where.'"
As they journeyed in Rome, Diane never went anywhere without that picture of the Marians. "It was in my pocket; it was in on me at all times so that when I found the spot, I'd have it on me."
So they went to the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome, one of the oldest churches dedicated to Mary in the world. "I had been there before," said Diane, "but a statue of Mary struck me right between the eyes."
It's an image of Mary, the Mother of God, holding the child Jesus in her arms, with one hand raised. "Father Kaz [Chwalek, provincial superior for the Marian Fathers in the US and Argentina] told me she's giving glory to God, but for me, it was like, "Not here. Not my boys." And I placed the Marians right there. I said, "Please, just keep these priests safe. Don't let any evil come to them."
Diane said she knew Mary would take care of the Marian Fathers "because they are her boys."
And so she prayed the Rosary at the National Shrine, as well, joining in the prayers of the Global Rosary Relay, placing the Marian priests and all other priests under the mantle of Mary, beneath her protection, trusting in her love and the power of her Son.
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.
Next year's Rosary Relay is scheduled for Friday, June 3, the feast of the Sacred Heart. The Shrine plans on participating.