Catholic churches around world take part in rosary relay for priests

By Abbey Jaroma
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — On June 12, the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Catholic churches around the world united in prayer for a Global Rosary Relay for Priests.

"Originally, today’s feast was one of atonement for human ingratitude toward God, but today the church focuses on the great love that God has for us, directing us to draw joyfully from the spring of salvation," Msgr. Walter Rossi, rector of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, said in a homily during a Mass prior to recitation of the rosary.

Msgr. Rossi said the solemnity "assures us that Jesus reaches out to us, and encourages us to reach out to him, taking his yoke upon our shoulders, confident that when we respond to Jesus invitation, the Lord will provide for all our needs and we will experience an outpouring of his love."

The feast day is also the World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests, so the Global Rosary Relay was offered in thanksgiving for priests, and as a petition to Mary to care for and protect the world’s priests.

The national shrine was one of 84 shrines in 46 nations participating in the relay.

The relay lasted 24 hours, with people at each shrine praying a particular mystery of the rosary at every half hour period. It began June 11 in the Church of Our Lady of Magadan in Siberia, and concluded June 12 at the Sanctuary of our Lady of Guadalupe in Guatemala.

Washington?s participation followed the recitation of the rosary at the Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The prayer cycle was then handed off to the Church of Our Most Holy Mother of the Light in Monterrey, Mexico.

The event is an initiative of WorldPriest, a nonprofit Catholic apostolate with offices in New York and Dublin.

For Sister Mary Joy of Martyrs, a religious sister from Maryland but currently missioned in Italy, the rosary is a "simple way of imitating their virtues," she told CNS.

She said she feels that it is important to pray for priests, ?because they are the instruments of God’s grace for all people, and without them we would not have the Eucharist, or the forgiveness of God through the sacrament of reconciliation, so we need to pray for them."

Pope Francis sent his apostolic blessing to the relay, assuring all those taking part in the event of his spiritual closeness.

Msgr. Rossi believes events such as this are good for the local church as well as the universal church.

"Every time we gather to pray we support each other, we strengthen each other, and we help each other along the path to holiness. It is never a bad thing to pray."

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