Julie and Eric Walter of St. Mary Parish in Eugene pray during Rosary Bowl.
Sentinel photo by Gerry Lewin
KEIZER At the Rosary Bowl here Saturday, Auxiliary Bishop Kenneth Steiner read from two letters one from a death row inmate, the other from a cancer patient.
Both writers, Bishop Steiner told the crowd of 1,000, believe each of us is a missionary, even if in a prison cell or a sick bed. Both the prisoner and the patient spoke of the rosary as a kind of engine running their surprising outreach to others.
In wind, rain and sun, the annual family prayer event at Volcanoes Stadium included music, confessions, a visit by the missionary image of Our Lady of Guadalupe; a eucharistic procession; adoration; benediction and a public recitation of the rosary.
The mission is to promote and encourage families to pray together, especially the daily family rosary.
The Holy Rosary of the Blessed Mother of God is our greatest aid on a missionary road that each of us is called to walk upon, the anonymous inmate wrote to Bishop Steiner. The convicted murderer had a conversion and now carries on work for overseas missionaries and urges his fellow inmates to better lives.
In tough times, the prisoner wrote, it is wise to call on Mama Mary, pick up our rosary, and go make Jesus known.
Throughout our Lords life on earth, Mary played an important role in the saving mission of Jesus, Bishop Steiner told the crowd. And throughout history, Mary has continued to play a preeminent role in our salvation, in our ministry as disciples in mission, in bringing people to God and God to people.
The bishop called the rosary one of the important prayers of the church, containing the Lords Prayer, the ancient Apostles Creed and the Hail Mary, words from scripture.
Father John Cihak, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Gervais and pro-life director for the Archdiocese of Portland, offered words of encouragement regarding family prayer and the respect of all human life.
On the heels of Respect Life Sunday, Rosary Bowl NW is seen as a public witness to the power of prayer, especially for the needs of the family.
It was significant that this event honoring the Mother of God would host the missionary image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, known as the Patroness of the Americas and the Unborn, says Dina Marie Hale, a KBVM radio host and Rosary Bowl organizer.
I felt like we all took tiny steps on the ladder to sainthood today, said Laura Dytewski, a member of Holy Rosary Parish. I saw little children praying with their parents; parents giving their coats to their kids; so many little sacrifices today.
On a soaked field wearing only socks, a troupe of grade school children from the Vietnamese community of St. Joseph in Salem performed a special dance to honor Our Lady of Lavang, bringing applause from the delighted if drenched crowd.
During the middle of the program, the main sound system lost power and the musicians moved into the press box while the rosary reciters remained on stage amid pouring rain, spots of sun and blue sky.
The rosary was led by Bishop Steiner, Father Henry Rufo, Maria Elena Pena, Hung Nguyen, Father Chester Wrzaszczak and Dominican Father Reginald Martin. The Fourth Degree Honor guard assisted in the procession as well as several local Knights of Columbus chapters volunteered with the event.
Marian music was led by the group Seraphim under the direction of David Phillips, music director of St. Mary Parish in Eugene.
The day also included live Christian Music by Leticia Pickett and The Thirsting.
Regardless of unpredictable Oregon weather, Rosary Bowl NW is annually held on the first Saturday of October, the Rosary Month and World Wide Rosary Day. More information on Rosary Bowl NW is at www.rosarybowlnw.org.