People of all ages are being encouraged to pray the Rosary every Saturday in the run up to World Youth Day 2011 in Madrid.The Firm in the Faith with Mary Rosary campaign, which has been organized by Family Rosary International working with Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) and other Catholic organizations, is asking people to pray the rosary for conversion, deepening of faith and commitment to follow Christ for those attending World Youth Day (16th-20th August).
Fr. James Phalan, the Director of Family Rosary International, described WYD as “a huge moment for the new evangelization in Spain, Europe and beyond.”
He added, “What better way to prepare than meditating on the life of Christ through the rosary and offering WYD to Our Lady through this prayer?”
Fr. Phalan developed the plan in conjunction with Javier Menéndez-Ros, National Director of ACN-Spain, in October 2010.
“When we brought our strategy to the WYD organization, they gave it their blessing right away,” he explained.
In addition to receiving approval from the WYD organization in Madrid, the campaign also received the backing of the Vatican’s Pontifical Councils for the Laity and for Social Communications.
Social networks and other media such as Twitter and Facebook have been used to promote the prayer initiative.
As well as being able to pledge to pray the rosary by visiting www.firminfaith.org supporters can record themselves praying a decade of the rosary and upload it to the campaign’s YouTube channel.
Fr. Phalan reported that more than 700 people from 55 countries have already signed up online and many more have indicated that they are saying the rosary every Saturday for the success of World Youth Day.
He said, “We get feedback from many countries about the promotion and the support of prayer, so I know there are many thousands praying.”
Reflecting on why more people were not formally signing up he said, “I have asked myself dozens of times why people don’t actually sign up. I think they get so many requests for sign-ups online they are suspicious…”
“When I tried to encourage a priest in India to encourage people to sign up, he became a bit indignant, saying Indians don’t “sign up” for prayer – they will just do it!”
Fr. Phalan went on to describe why Saturday in particular had been chosen for this initiative.
He said, “Saturday has long been the day particularly consecrated to Mary so it is right that the day we have chosen for the prayer in this campaign be Saturday.”
Going on to speak about the importance of devotion to the Mother of God, the priest said, “Mary is not simply a pious idea. She is a living person, alive in our lives, and truly our mother.”
“This is something concrete, warm and intimate so by choosing a concrete day we hope people will grow in love of Mary and Jesus together.”
In conclusion, Fr. Phalan emphasized the importance of WYD 2011 and stressed the importance of prayer as a way of preparing for it.
“There will be about one million or more young pilgrims going to search for Jesus Christ at WYD in Madrid – by any way of looking at this it is a really important moment for young Christians and for the pastoral attention of the Church of them. Its impact goes far beyond those who can actually attend.”
“We need to be sure to do what is most important, but since it is so simple it is often overlooked – pray.”
“We can unite many in prayer with the prayer of Mary that has been beloved for so long and that more and more people are rediscovering – the Rosary.”