Monday, September 12, 2011

SF October 15 Rosary Rally: "The Family that Prays Together, Stays Together."

Here's our story, published in last week's California Catholic Daily, about the October 15 Family Rosary Crusade Rally. The rally will be held in the city's Civic Center Plaza, at 12 noon.

What is really exciting now is how young people are getting involved and how old people are sharing their memories from the 1961 Rally. Check out the Rosary Rally's Facebook page.

“Family, family, family”
Excitement builds for Rosary Rally in San Francisco

As the San Francisco Rosary Rally approaches, it is providing a unique opportunity for an intergenerational dialogue to take place among Catholics. The event is provoking a sense of shared Catholic history: a remembrance of history made by the old, and a chance to make history by the young.

The “Family Rosary Crusade 2011,” which will be celebrated on Oct. 15 at 12 noon in San Francisco’s Civic Center Plaza, commemorates the 50th Anniversary of Father Patrick Peyton’s 1961 Rosary Rally. The 1961 event, which was held in Golden Gate Park, drew an estimated 550,000 people. It remains the largest gathering in the history of San Francisco, and, for five straight days, made the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle.

As young people look forward to the Rosary Rally with excitement, older Catholics remember their experience at the original rally 50 years ago with fondness. On Sept. 1, EWTN’s “Life on the Rock” provided a full hour of programming on the Rosary Rally. The show included interviews with two high school girls who will be attending the rally, along with Ray Frost, one of the organizers from the Legion of Mary who attended Fr. Payton’s 1961 event, and Eva Muntean, co-founder of the Walk for Life West Coast, who is helping to plan the event. Between interviews, “Life on the Rock” hosts Fr. Mark and Doug Barry showed video clips of Father Peyton at the original 1961 rally.

The two young women who were interviewed, Colleen and Kendall Scullion, are sisters who attend the Convent of the Sacred Heart High School in San Francisco. The hosts asked what attracted them to the event. Colleen said that their father had attended the 1961 rally. He told her that one day in 1961, he answered the door, and there was someone from the Legion of Mary on the stoop who had been going door-to-door inviting people to attend the event. So he and his sisters ended up attending. Colleen said her father could not remember much (he was only 6 at the time) but that the experience of that number of people in one place was overwhelming: chaotic, but a lot of fun.

Kendall Scullion observed how central the family was for Father Peyton. “In doing some research on Fr. Peyton, I found that early on, he had had to leave his family in Ireland to follow his vocation. And then I found that everywhere throughout his ministry the common theme was ‘family, family, family.’ It seems like, with the rosary rally, he was able to find his family again.”

Both young women indicated that they would like to see more outreach toward young people for the event, especially via social media such as Twitter and Facebook. They had not heard of the Rosary Rally until informed by their theology teacher, who was attending World Youth Day. And they noted getting teens to participate requires overcoming some obstacles.

“We feel that kids are shy, they don’t want to be too bold about their faith,” Colleen said. “There is a lot of peer pressure among teens.” But Kendall noted that “if you can get the kids, the parents will follow.”

Ray Frost was 9 years old at the time of the 1961 rally. Frost remembered: “It was easy for us -- we only lived about a mile away from the Polo Fields, so it was an easy walk. The Rosary Rally was a peaceful, wonderful experience, and one that I want to continue. For over 50 years I have looked back on that day, and I want to live it again.”

When asked what he hoped to see from the Family Rosary Crusade 2011, Frost said: “The Crusade is a joint effort of the Legion of Mary, the Knights of Columbus, and Immaculate Heart Radio. The first thing we did was to get the blessing of Archbishop Niederauer for the event, which he gave. As we know, our archbishop has some health issues now -- let us all pray for him! We are not sure if he will be able to attend the rally, but we hope he can. We all know that Our Blessed Mother has asked us, quite directly, to pray the rosary every day. She promises us that if we do that peace and tranquility will come. My personal hope is that the rosary rally will generate a new and fresh love for the rosary. In 1961 it produced a great spirit. If we go to Our Lady, she will help us! The Legion of Mary is delivering pledge cards to all the parishes in the Archdiocese of San Francisco, asking families to pledge to say the rosary together as many times a week as they can. As Father Peyton said ‘The family that prays together, stays together.’”

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