Thursday, May 10, 2018

Australia's Coast to Coast Rosary: For Protection, the Future and its Youth

A photo of the Observatory Point and Lookout in Esperance, Western Australia
Observatory Point and Lookout in Esperance, Western Australia. Photo: Australia's Guide/Observatory Point and Lookout

With May being the "Month of Mary," it seemed only fitting to publish today's post on another national Rosary prayer event: the Coast to Coast Rosary for Australia's Protection, Future and the Youth, given the official title, Oz Rosary #53.

In only a few days time on Sunday, May 13, faithful Catholics throughout Australia will be gathering at the coasts for group recitation of the Rosary, surrounding Australia in prayer to draw upon God's Divine Intervention and Mercy through the intercession of Mary. Those that cannot make it to the coasts will be praying the Rosary within churches, at parks, lookouts and farms. There is even one group from Canberra praying at Black Mountain National Park in Queensland.

This national prayer event is drawing participation from many clergy, religious and laity including: the Legion of Mary in Perth; the Sisters of Mount Schoenstadt in Mulgoa; the Missionary Sisters of Charity in Fortitude Valley; the Sisters of Mercy in Alma and Camperdown; St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Parramatta; Cardinal Gilroy Retirement Village Merrylands; schools and pilgrimage centers; and a long list of parishes that continues to grow each day as Sunday draws near.

One cannot help but sense that we are witnessing the beginnings of a global Rosary movement. What started out in Poland as a national Rosary prayer event in the Fall 2017, was followed by similar national events in Italy, Ireland, and the British Isles. Soon it will be Australia's turn and there is also an American national Rosary event set for October 7, 2018.

Jane Chifley, who heads the Australian effort, has acknowledged the special significance of the origins of this "global movement": Poland, the homeland of St. John Paul II, whose love for Mary permeated his entire life and pontificate and who admitted, scarcely two weeks after his election to the See of Peter, that "The Rosary is my favourite prayer."

As for the selected date of May 13, Mother's Day in Australia—also the first day of the Marian apparitions to the children of Fatima in 1917—Chifley explained that it seemed appropriate since Mary is our Mother. With this national prayer event falling on a Sunday, it fits well into the schedules of many parishes who have planned group recitation of the Rosary and a Consecration Prayer to Mary either before or after Mass.

Part of this national initiative's online effort began a few months ago on November 3, 2017, with the initial Facebook post, which reads, "On Sunday May 13th, 2018 (Fatima Feast Day) let's pray the rosary across Australia for our nation, in 53 locations across the nation for the protection and consecration of our nation to Mary." 

The number "fifty-three" represents the Hail Marys of the Rosary and as of the publishing of this post, there are 211 confirmed locations participating in this national event. Although the vast majority of participants will be praying at the east and west coasts there are many other locations that deserve to be mentioned: Gantheaume Point in the north-west of Western Australia; Lee Point Beach, the northernmost group of participants in the Northern Territory; Sacred Heart Church on Thursday Island, the northernmost point in Queensland; Good Shepherd Parish in Mount Isa, Queensland; and Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Alice Springs in the Northern Territory.

An aerial photo of Thursday Island, in the Torres Strait, Queensland.
Aerial photo of Thursday Island, in the Torres Strait, Queensland. Photo: Island Girl Discovery/More About Me

Also worthy of mention are nine locations in Tasmania: Lulworth Boat Ramp and Weymouth on the northern coast; St. Anne's Catholic Church in Lilydale; Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church and Lagoon Beach in George Town; St. Brigid's Catholic Church in Wynyard; St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Riverside; St. Therese of Lisieux in Moonah; and St. Mary's Catholic Cathedral in Hobart.

The fact that Chifley has chosen to follow in the footsteps of other national Rosary prayer events speaks volumes about her faith in God and trust in Our Lady's intercession, as well as to her understanding that the battle for Australia's protection, future and the youth is primarily a spiritual battle that must be fought with spiritual weapons. And the most effective way to fight the good fight is by group recitation of the Rosary.

Saint Louis De Montfort in his book, The Secret of the Rosary, at the Forty-Sixth Rose: Group Recitation, wrote that not only is the group recitation of the Rosary the method of prayer that the Evil One fears the most, but "...[I]t is far more formidable to the devil than one said privately, because in this public prayer it is an army that is attacking him." (98)

Utilizing the Rosary as a spiritual weapon in times of great need has been a long-held tradition in the Church since its origin when Saint Dominic (Founder of the Order of Preachers) received the Rosary from the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1214, as an efficacious method and powerful means to convert the Albigensians and other sinners.

That long-held tradition was given much attention by Pope Leo XIII in his encyclical Supremi Apostolatus Officio—the first of many documents issued on the importance of the Rosary—on devotion to the Rosary as an efficacious remedy for the many evils afflicting society. In that encyclical's first page Pope Leo XIII wrote, "It has always been the habit of Catholics in danger and in troublous times to fly for refuge to Mary, and to seek for peace in her maternal goodness; showing that the Catholic Church has always, and with justice, put all her hope and trust in the Mother of God." (2) Written in 1883, Pope Leo XIII's encyclical not only encouraged devotion to the Rosary, but spotlighted how important it has been in the history of the Catholic Church when faced with several threats; namely, the violence of heresy, intolerable moral corruption, and aggressive Islamic attacks by the Ottoman Turks.

An aerial photo of Gantheaume Point Lighthouse, Western Australia.
Gantheaume Point Lighthouse, Western Australia. Photo: Trip Advisor Australia/Gantheaume Point Lighthouse

Saint John Paul II in his Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae, also noted the particular efficacy of the Rosary in most difficult times when Christianity itself was threatened:
The Church has always attributed particular efficacy to this prayer, entrusting to the Rosary, to its choral recitation and to its constant practice, the most difficult problems. At times when Christianity itself seemed under threat, its deliverance was attributed to the power of this prayer, and Our Lady of the Rosary was acclaimed as the one whose intercession brought salvation. (39)
The Rosary is much more than a protective prayer; as a compendium of the Gospel it is a genuine path of contemplation on the life of Jesus and Mary, and the Gospel lessons contained within each mystery. As St. John Paul II put it in the aforementioned apostolic letter the Rosary is, "...[A] prayer of great significance, destined to bring forth a harvest of holiness." (1) A little further on he wrote, "With the Rosary, the Christian people sits at the school of Mary and is led to contemplate the beauty on the face of Christ and to experience the depths of his love. Through the Rosary the faithful receive abundant grace, as though from the very hands of the Mother of the Redeemer." (1)

The Rosary is important for our salvation: the primary goal in life! The Rosary is an opportunity to draw closer to Jesus and Mary; an invitation from Our Mother who loves Her children and wants them to be sanctified and saved. Saint Louis De Montfort in the same aforementioned book lists, in chapter Twenty Seventh Rose: Benefits, how this can be accomplished by those who pray the Rosary: it gradually brings us a perfect knowledge of Jesus Christ; it purifies our souls from sin; it gives us victory over all our enemies; it makes the practice of virtue easy; it sets us on fire with the love of our Lord; it enriches us with graces and merits; it supplies us with what is needed to pay all our debts to God and to our fellowmen; and finally, it obtains all kinds of graces from God. (65)

A photo of St. Mary's Cathedral, Hobart, Tasmania
St. Mary's Cathedral, Hobart, Tasmania. Photo: Martin Pot (Martybugs at en.wikipedia) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (], from Wikimedia Commons

As part of the spiritual preparation and protection for this coming Sunday's national prayer event, organizers have encouraged participants to daily recite the St. Michael the Archangel Prayer.

Organizers are also hoping that participants will recite the dedicated Act of Consecration, at the end of their Rosary recitations on Sunday, in an effort to consecrate Australia to Mary! Here is that very prayer to the Patroness of Australia, Our Lady of Help of Christians:
O Mary Help of Christians, Patroness of Australia, Mother of Mercy, Queen of Heaven and earth, refuge of sinners, we consecrate ourselves to your Immaculate Heart.

To you we consecrate our country, our families, our hearts, and souls and all that we have.

And in order that this consecration may be truly effective and lasting, we renew today the promises of our Baptism and Confirmation; and we undertake to live as good Christians - faithful to God, the Church and the Holy Father. We desire to pray the Rosary, partake in the Holy Eucharist, attach special importance to the first Saturday of the month and to work for the conversion of sinners.

Furthermore we promise, O most holy Virgin, that we will zealously spread devotion to you, so that through our consecration to your Immaculate Heart and through your own intercession the coming of the Kingdom of Christ in the world may be hastened.

Participants have also been encouraged to pray to the three patrons of "Oz Rosary #53": St. John Paul II; St. Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio), who recited several Rosaries each day; and to St. Mary MacKillop, the Australian nun who co-founded Australia's first religious order in 1866, the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart. 

Chifley has informed me that participants are also praying to Eileen O'Connor, co-founder of Our Lady's Nurses for the Poor; a saint in waiting whose incorrupt body is in chapel near Coogee Beach, New South Wales, where Chifley will be reciting her Rosary on Sunday.

No spiritual preparation would be complete without fasting; the other "spiritual weapon" that perfectly combines with prayer in the fight against the Evil One and his demons, which Our Lady Queen of Peace in Medjugorje has been encouraging since the early 80's; just one of Her "little stones."

An image of Oz Rosary #53 Facebook post encouraging participants of this national prayer event to fast.
Facebook post encouraging participants to fast in preparation for this national event. Image: Facebook/OZ Rosary #53

Organizers are keenly aware of the importance of fasting and have expressed their hope that participants will fast to fight the good fight. When we fast, we pray better and our fight becomes more efficacious as some demons only respond to fasting! (Mark 9:29)

The organizing effort and spiritual preparations put forth for this national prayer event are certainly in keeping with Australia's Catholic heritage: a nation that was discovered in 1606, by a devout Catholic and Portuguese navigator, Pedro Fernandes de Queirós, who declared Australia as "the Southern Land of the Holy Spirit." In fact, Australia is Latin meaning "the nation in the south" or "the southern land." 

In one of the manuscript records Pedro Fernandes de Queirós' proclamation reads, "In the name of the Most Holy Trinity, the Catholic Church, the Order of St Francis and the Order of Blessed John of God and of the Holy Spirit and of His Majesty ... I take possession of these lands and all the parts thereof, in the name of John of God and all the professed brothers of his Order." Another manuscript record further reveals Pedro Fernandes de Queirós' faith and devotion:
Let the heavens, the earth, the waters with all their creatures and all those here present witness that I, Captain Pedro Fernandez de Quiros, in these hitherto unknown parts, in the name of Jesus Christ, Son of the Eternal Father and of the Virgin Mary, God and true man, hoist this emblem of the Holy Cross on which His person was crucified and whereon He gave His life for the ransom and remedy of all the human race, being present as witnesses all the land and sea-going officers; on this Day of Pentecost, 14th May 1606.
Oz Rosary #53 has the support of many clergy, including the Bishop Emeritus David Cremin, the Irish-born retired bishop of Sydney, who has officially endorsed this national prayer event.

As Sunday, May 13, is rapidly approaching, may Catholics around the world show their support by uniting their Rosary prayers to those faithful Catholics in Australia.


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