Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

As we celebrate the 175th Anniversary of the Archdiocese, we look back… on July 16, 1978 when the first Mass was held at St. Monica Church, Northford.
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rosary rally-webPeople recite a decade of the rosary during the 25th anniversary celebration of the Diocesan Rosary Rally on Oct. 12 at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Hartford. (Photo by Aaron Joseph)

HARTFORD – The Cathedral of St. Joseph provided the setting for an overview of the power of the rosary on Oct. 12 at the 25th anniversary celebration of the Diocesan Rosary Rally.

It included recitation of the rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet, followed by Benediction.

Father John J. Bevins, pastor of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Waterbury and spiritual director for the rally, greeted the prayer warriors, and talked about the historical importance and influence of the rosary – from the victory by the Christians over the Muslims at Lepanto in 1571 after people prayed the rosary; to the role of St. Dominic in spreading the rosary, and to the devotion of Pope Pius V, who instituted the memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary.

Archbishop Leonard P. Blair welcomed participants to the cathedral and reminded them that October not only is the month of the rosary, but also marks the 97th anniversary of the Marian apparitions at Fatima and the month in which one Sunday is set aside for the observance of Respect Life Sunday.

“It draws our minds and hearts to Mary and the rosary – a powerful instrument of Mary’s intercession for the church and for the salvation of the world,” he said.

“No devotion identifies us as Catholics more than our praying of the rosary,” he said. “The rosary is meant to bring union with Jesus Christ through his mother.

“Almost a century ago in Fatima, the church and the world were given an urgent call from heaven for conversion, for prayer and for penance,” he said.

“Today more than ever, we are witnessing a widespread and relentless displacement of God from the center of life,” he cautioned, “a rejection of the truth written into our very nature … because of the neo-pagan morality that leads to inner desolation and death both in this life and in the world to come.”

He said, “In the face of such great obstacles, we need to repeat the words of Our Lady of Fatima: My Immaculate Heart will triumph.”

The archbishop reminded those gathered that at his installation last December, he led a prayer of entrustment of the archdiocese to Mary, Our Mother, a prayer he said he prays every day.

“I join you today in asking Mary, our mother, especially by means of the rosary, for an end to the evil attacks against people from birth to natural death,” he said.

Elaine Atiyeh, who coordinates the Rosary Rally each year, offered a history of the event in Connecticut and later told The Catholic Transcript how her devotion to the rosary evolved through her family and role as mother.

“I went through the ’60s with sick children, and I felt a responsibility to them,” she said. “I found a pamphlet published in 1970 by the Blue Army with a summary of the messages of Fatima, so I wrote to them. I signed the petition to pray the rosary every day for peace. And I said to myself, ‘This is the answer to our problems.’ So I became a leader and promoter of the rosary.”

In 1985, she helped to organize a procession, talk, rosary and Benediction at Lourdes of Litchfield, patterned after a similar Fatima-influenced devotion that she participated in at a Marian shrine on Long Island.

Five years later, she and Father Stanley Smolenski, who has since become spiritual director for a Marian Shrine in South Carolina, conducted a seven-day rosary congress at St. Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield with two daily sessions that included Mass, a talk, the rosary and Benediction.

The next year, a three-hour Rosary Rally was held at the Cathedral of St Joseph; and in 2002, organizers moved the event to the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception under the spiritual direction of Father Bevins.

“The Rosary Rally itself was always to honor Our Lady in May and October,” she said. “It’s wonderful when you gather a group together in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Our prayers are very powerful.”

After processing into the Cathedral with the archbishop, lay faithful placed banners on the altar from nearly a dozen apostolates, including the Blue Army, Catholics United for the Faith, Connecticut Catholic Alliance, Charismatic Renewal, Connecticut Right to Life, Helpers of God’s Precious Infants and Legion of Mary.