A unique opportunity to place all prayer intentions and the needs of the faithful into the loving arms of the Mother of God was made available throughout the Diocese of Venice from Oct. 6 to Oct. 14, 2023, during the Traveling Rosary Congress.
The Rosary Congress was hosted by 31 Parishes and always included the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, Eucharistic Adoration and the praying of the Holy Rosary.
The Rosary was said for intentions such as the Church, Pope Francis, the faithful of the Diocese of Venice, our country, and difficulties throughout the world. The faithful were also encouraged to renew themselves to the Blessed Mother and for a greater love for Jesus Christ in the Most Holy Eucharist.
Praying the Rosary has developed over time, with the combination of the beads telling the story of Salvation History, helping to open one’s heart to a great love of the Lord.
Bishop Frank J. Dewane said praying the Rosary helps create a pathway for everyone to open a conversation with the Lord and Blessed Virgin, a key component in one’s Faith life.
Citing the example of St. Mother Teresa, Bishop Dewane referred to the power of the Rosary, calling everyone to pray it and live it and persevere. In addition, the Bishop noted how Pope Francis frequently describes praying the Rosary as armor to be used in the spiritual battle we all face each day.
“We pray the Rosary to honor Our Mother, who said that glorious ‘Yes!’ to God, bringing His Son into the world for our salvation,” Bishop Dewane said.
The Diocese of Venice has continually fostered its devotion to the Blessed Mother. Our Lady of Mercy is the Patroness of the Diocese. Under this patronage, the Diocese was formally consecrated to Our Lady during Advent of 2017.
The Diocese has included the Rosary Congress as a key component of the ongoing National Eucharistic Revival which is in its Parish Year phase and concludes with a national pilgrimage to Indianapolis in July 2024. The Revival is an initiative of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to put an emphasis on the Real Presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist.
At Incarnation Parish in Sarasota, the Rosary Congress took place in the Chapel Oct. 10-11, with a continuous 24-hour Adoration. Parishioners registered for hour-long blocks, promising to spend time in prayer.
At many Parishes, groups such as the Knights of Columbus, Council of Catholic Women and many others volunteered for specific times of devotion.
Carol O’Neill of Incarnation Parish said the Rosary Congress inspired her to spend several hours in prayer. “Our Lady means so much to me. She is a true inspiration. She is who I pray to when I seek guidance or counsel. I felt this was a great opportunity to spend more time in focused prayer. The world needs prayers. We all do.”
At Epiphany Cathedral Parish in Venice, the opening Mass of the Rosary Congress took place on Oct. 7, and was followed by a Eucharistic Procession around the Parish grounds.
Students at St. Joseph Catholic School participated in the opening Mass on Oct. 6, with students offering the readings, general intercessions, and presenting the offertory gifts. The student choir led the singing for Mass and then Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. For this special event, every student received a new handmade rosary from the parishioners of St. Anne Parish in Bismarck, North Dakota.
The Rosary Congress was coordinated through the Diocesan Office of Evangelization, and the first Parishes to host began their observance on Oct. 6, the Vigil of the Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary.
The Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary directly commemorates the 1571 naval Battle of Lepanto. The Holy League (a naval coalition of European Catholic maritime states) defeated the vastly superior Ottoman navy in the Gulf of Patras near modern day Greece, overcoming tremendous odds after Pope Pius V called upon all Catholics to pray the Rosary for victory. This victory successfully halted the spread of the Ottoman Empire into Rome and beyond. The Feast Day is also referred to as Our Lady of Victory.
Many Parishes bracketed the Congress with the celebration of the Mass at the opening and closing of a 24-hour period of Adoration. Other participating Parishes ensured there was at least a long period of time dedicated to the praying the Rosary and adoration following an opening Mass. In addition, several Parishes made the Sacrament of Reconciliation available during specific times of the Rosary Congress.
When possible, the Rosary Congress included the Parish Catholic school. In the case of Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School in Venice, the entire school took part in a “Living Rosary” prayer service on Oct. 10, as the Parish hosted the Congress on Oct. 7, a weekend day. During the service, older students led everyone in prayer, while children in younger grades brought forth roses for Mary.
As October is dedicated to Our Lady, and Oct. 7 is dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary, other commemorations took place throughout the Diocese to honor Our Lady.
At Ave Maria Parish, in Ave Maria, there were two “Rosary Walks” on Oct. 7, one in the morning, the other in the evening. The walks led from the Parish and onto the neighboring Ave Maria University campus and both included large numbers of people.
The evening walk followed a Mass celebrated by Bishop Dewane. Following the Mass, the Bishop blessed the participants in the walk and praised them for honoring Our Lady and her saying “Yes!” to the Lord.
Diocesan Catholics schools use the entire month of October to help instill a greater appreciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and for praying the Rosary at all grade levels.
As an example, second graders at St. Martha Catholic School in Sarasota learned how to make and then pray the Rosary as part of a class project. They ultimately learned what each bead stands for, as well as the special prayers that are recited. These students are part of the school’s First Communion class who will receive the Sacrament in May 2024, another month dedicated to Mary.