NEW ORLEANS, La. (The Clarion Herald) - A committed crowd of approximately 400 turned out in the heat to pray for four hours Sept. 8 at the first Greater New Orleans Rosary Bowl held in Audubon Park.
“We are a city living in darkness; that’s why we are praying here for the conversion (of the city),” Josephite Father Joseph Doyle said. “It’s for all of us to see the light of Christ and pray for our conversion.”
The event began with a procession of organizations carrying symbols of the saints who, throughout New Orleans’ history, have protected the city from fire, war and disease. Represented were Joan of Arc, the city’s patron Our Lady of Prompt Succor, St. Louis King of France, Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos and St. Katharine Drexel.
Priests and seminarians participated in each of the mysteries of the rosary. Father Joseph Cazenavette moved the event along as spiritual director, and Kitty Cleveland provided musical interludes.
Highlighting the morning was an animated talk by guest speaker Father James Kelleher, director of mission development for the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity and leader of the Russian Mission Team. He implored children and adults alike to be prayer warriors who build a spiritual army.
“You came for more than a suntan,” Kelleher told attendees. “You came because you believe. The city of New Orleans will not be same after today. You believe that a son of a carpenter can rebuild New Orleans. He’s going to do it, he is doing it, and you’re doing it.”
Kelleher revealed how he answered God’s call to further Christianity in Russia and establish eucharistic family crusades in 2003 in Rome at the beatification of Mother Teresa. He has since worked tirelessly to make a difference by promoting the rosary.
“The building block of the army is the American family,” Kelleher said. “The Virgin Mary is going to save America, and she’s going to do it with prayer of the daily rosary as a family.”
He sees praying the rosary as a solution to many of today’s problems.
“If you pray every day, prayer becomes deep in the spirit,” Kelleher said. “In the rosary, we contemplate the face of Jesus through the eyes of Mary.”
He lauded New Orleanian Nancy Albert for having the fortitude to launch the local rosary event because it fulfills Our Lady of Fatima’s request to pray the daily rosary for world peace. He encouraged families to pray the rosary together daily and challenged New Orleanians to organize a rosary bowl in the Superdome for 80,000 by 2009.
Unless the Lord rebuilds…Kelleher left the groundwork to achieve this by assigning homework to seminarians and nuns who are “spiritual dynamos” to form rosary prayer partners. He mentioned how prayer teams solicit participation by going door-to-door encouraging prayer and distributing miraculous medals. He invited everyone to see a global rosary of 40,000 in action in Kansas City in May 2008.
“Unless the Lord rebuilds the house, it will not be rebuilt,” Kelleher said, referring to the devastation left by Hurricane Katrina. He encouraged praying for each other and to not wait for the government to do everything.
“Who can do it? You can,” he said. “Let the Lord rebuild the house. Let the Lord rebuild New Orleans and do it under the mantel of the Blessed Virgin.”
The New Orleans event, modeled after a successful rally in May 2007 that drew 40,000 to California, was the result of the determination of Albert and the St. Joan of Arc Prayer Warriors that meet monthly at St. Patrick Church in New Orleans. She planned it specifically on the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin, Sept. 8.
“I decided it needed to be done in New Orleans, for the rebuilding of New Orleans according to God’s moral and holy laws,” Albert said. “We had been praying (St. Joan of Arc Prayer Warriors) for New Orleans for the past 15 or 16 years. We no longer wanted to be known as sin city, and we thought to bring the people together and let the people pray. Our Lady says the rosary is the way to salvation. It could be a way to save our city and save our soul. If they could have a rosary bowl in California, we could have a rosary bowl here. Public prayer is so important especially now (after Katrina). We want people to come out and pray.”
Kenner residents JoAnn Malter and Denise and Michael Kearney were among those who braved the heat to attend the rally. They were glad they did.
“It was beautiful,” Malter said, adding that she was glad to see this first effort so well attended. “I loved the priest (Father Kelleher’s) sermon mentioning the pope.”