Back in 2003, my husband and I were traveling through a very busy city when we came upon a large group of people standing outside a court house holding signs protesting the war. I turned and said to my husband, “Why don’t they just pray for peace instead?” With excitement he responded, “Yeah!” “We should invite several of our friends to join us in praying the Rosary on the steps of City Hall.” Upon sharing his idea with one of our friends, our friend took it a little further and suggested that we have a Rosary Procession, as Our Blessed Mother had requested at Lourdes: ”Let the processions come hither.” My response was: “A Rosary what?” I had never heard of such a thing, but I was about to find out what it was and why I would want to participate in one.
Our Lady appeared exactly one hundred years ago, specifically on May 13th, 1917, in Fatima, Portugal to three little children. She asked them to pray the Rosary every day for the reparation of sin, the salvation of souls and the establishment of peace in the world. She told the three little children to “Pray, pray, pray the Rosary and offer everything you do as a sacrifice to God in reparation for men’s sins.”
After reflecting upon what the Rosary really is all about, and the Message of Fatima, participating in a Rosary Procession made complete sense. That was fourteen years ago, and this June 11, 2017, I will participate in the Fifteenth Annual Diocesan-Wide Eucharistic Rosary Procession (Eucharistic, because in 2010 we received permission to process with the Blessed Sacrament) to take place in our Diocese of Springfield, Massachusetts, in the city of Northampton.
How does one go about organizing a Eucharistic Rosary Procession? Well, when we first started, we weren’t really sure what to do, but we did know a few things for certain. We wanted to:
—invite as many people as possible,
—unite our diocese in prayer,
—answer Our Blessed Mother’s request to pray the Holy Rosary,
—adore Our Lord Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament,
—strengthen one another on our pilgrimage towards Christ.
With that being said, we began by obtaining permission, first from our bishop, then from our pastor. We then put in a request for a parade permit from our city’s police chief. With that settled, we sent out a letter of invitation and a flyer to every church throughout the entire diocese. We also made posters, and with each pastor’s permission, put them up in all the churches. All that was left to do then was to wait prayerfully until the big day arrived.
The first year there were approximately 100 people who attended. The event began with Eucharistic adoration, followed by an Act of Consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The recitation of the Rosary began inside the church and continued as the people processed out the door and into the streets. A megaphone was used to keep the recitation of the Rosary in unison, and the Ave, Ave, of Fatima was sung between each of the decades. Police were stationed to block off the traffic along our route of approximately 1.8 miles. Upon our return back inside the church, the Divine Mercy Chaplet was prayed (sung), followed by Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction. After the prayerful event, all were invited to a reception in the parish hall for fellowship and refreshments. This has been the basic format which we have continued to follow throughout the years.
In the fourteen years that we have been working to organize the procession, I have had the pleasure of watching it grow from one hundred participants that first year to last year’s amazing number of approximately 750 attendees. People of all ages and ethnic backgrounds, representing thirty-five cities and towns throughout Massachusetts and six surrounding states participated.
Though the procession has grown over the years, we continue to investigate new opportunities and explore different ideas to advertise in order to reach out to as many souls as possible. From our first humble homemade posters, we’ve developed a signature poster that is updated each year. Through the establishment of church liaisons, the posters are put up in every church throughout the entire diocese one month in advance of the procession. These church liaisons also help to organize car pooling and speak about the procession in their churches.
In the beginning we sent out hundreds of letters of invitation, either by mail or by hand. Now gratefully we can say that not only a hard copy, but an invitation, printable flyer, and a bulletin announcement are all sent electronically through a diocesan-wide emailing. We advertise on various radio stations, in both Spanish and English, three television programs across Massachusetts, various web sites, at the diocesan web calendar and our diocesan magazine. We have even developed our own web site: www.eucharisticprocessionnorthampton.com. We attend lay deanery meetings, speak at Knights of Columbus meetings, and maintain a booth at both the Men and Women’s Catholic Conferences in our diocese each year. This year we have already begun giving out prayer cards with an image of Our Lady of Fatima in honor of the 100th Anniversary of Our Lady’s Apparition to the three children, with the logistics of the procession on the back.
So, why a Eucharistic Rosary Procession? Because it is a perfect way to evangelize, obtain a plenary indulgence and bring the love of Christ to others. When we walk in a procession, we are actually walking with Mary to Jesus; walking the streets of our city, bringing Jesus to those who might not ever have the opportunity to be in His Presence in the Holy Eucharist. “The great crowds that followed Him came from Galilee, the Ten Cities, Jerusalem and Judea, and from across the Jordan” (Mat: 4:25).
Most importantly, it’s not the size of the procession that matters; it’s the witnessing of our faith. As we answer our Blessed Mother’s call to pray the Rosary daily, turn away from sin and make acts of reparation for our sins and the sins of others, our hearts are transformed into the image and likeness of her Son, Jesus. This transformation allows us to enter into a deeper union with her Son, Jesus Christ. A union like no other in which we experience the true meaning of love, freedom and tranquility in our daily lives. The Eucharist is our sanctification and our salvation, and the Rosary is truly a peace plan from heaven, given to us by Our Lady herself. A Eucharistic Rosary Procession is a perfect means to share this awesome plan with others.