By Mary Stadnyk, Associate Editor, and Rose, O’Connor, Correspondent
Parishes across the Diocese opened their doors to faithful of the wider community Oct. 7 as they prayed and reflected on the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.
Among them were Our Lady of Sorrows-St. Anthony Parish, Hamilton, and St. Joseph, Toms River, which held Masses, processions, prayErs and luncheons.
“Every rosarian can be and should be an evangelizer, and the Rosary is the strength needed to do the work,” Msgr. Thomas N. Gervasio, pastor of Our Lady of Sorrows-St. Anthony Parish, said in his homily in Our Lady of Sorrows Church.
It was there that more than 150 women from Rosary Altar Societies of about 14 parishes in Mercer, Monmouth and northern Burlington counties gathered for the 13th annual Regional Rosary Altar Society Network Mass. Msgr. Thomas N. Gervasio asked those gathered to model the Blessed Mother, who has been called “the Star of Evangelization, the model of evangelization, drawing people to her son.”
Toms River Commemoration
Drawing people together was a goal in Toms River, where some 300 people of all ages convened on the campus of St. Joseph Parish, which also includes St. Joseph Grammar School and Donovan Catholic, for a daylong, bilingual event that not only commemorated the Feast of the Holy Rosary but also one that anticipated the observance of the 100th anniversary of the Fatima apparitions Oct. 13.
Father Scott Shaffer, pastor of St. Joseph Parish, told of how the day, organized by Father Carlos Aguirre, parish parochial vicar, featured presentations in English and Spanish for children and adults with speakers including Father Pablo Gadenz, a priest of the Diocese and an associate professor of theology at Seton Hall University, South Orange; Divine Word Father Guilherme Andrino, parochial vicar and youth coordinator for St. Anthony of Claret Parish, Lakewood, and Franciscan Friar of the Renewal Brother Kolbe Immaculata Blashock. Father Javier Diaz, pastor of Christ the King Parish, Long Branch, was among those who concelebrated Mass.
In the afternoon, an outdoor procession was held during which a group of men from Christ the King Parish who have a devotion to the Rosary helped carry a statue of Our Lady of Fatima. The procession prayed the Rosary as they traveled across the parking lot into St. Joseph Church for Mass. All participants who attended were granted a plenary indulgence, an opportunity granted by Pope Francis in connection with the 100th anniversary of the Fatima apparitions. The indulgence is part of the Our Lady of Fatima Centennial, which began Nov. 27, 2016, and extends until Nov. 26, 2017.
Joy, Individuality & Trust
The gathering of communities was reflected in Msgr. Gervasio’s homily, too, in which he encouraged the Rosary Altar Society women by outlining “three ingredients” needed to be a successful evangelizer: to have joy, to be different and to have trust.
In being joyful, Msgr. Gervasio said, “We cannot proclaim Christ with funeral faces. Our faith is serious but never somber.”
In having the courage to be different, Msgr. Gervasio said that Rosarians must be like Mary. “We need to have the courage to stand apart in the secular works. When the Church blends into the world, it doesn’t help the world.”
In having trust, he said, “Our Blessed Mother had a trust in God beyond compare. Through prayer, we come to understand the plan of God.” He reminded the Rosarians that “evangelization is not a human enterprise. Evangelization is God’s work ultimately.”
Following the Mass, a breakfast was held in the parish center, where the Rosarians shared faith and fellowship.
Natalie Baranowski, Our Lady of Sorrows-St. Anthony Parish Rosary Altar Society president, acknowledged the months of planning that went into the Marian celebration.
“We started work in March for the Mass and it turned out so wonderful,” she said. “To see everyone come together for Our Lady is very beautiful.”
Marcia Adams, who also helped with planning added, “Sometimes you can get caught up with the logistics of the day, but today was really joyous. Being joyous is what the day is all about!”