Thousands expected at annual Arizona Rosary Celebration

Catholics carry a statue of Our Lady of Fatima during the 2009 Arizona Rosary Celebration. Our Lady of Fatima will be honored during this year’s event at the Phoenix Convention Center. Oct. 13 is her feast day. (J.D. Long-Garcia/CATHOLIC SUN FILE PHOTO)
Catholics carry a statue of Our Lady of Fatima during the 2009 Arizona Rosary Celebration. Our Lady of Fatima will be honored during this year’s event at the Phoenix Convention Center. Oct. 13 is her feast day. (J.D. Long-Garcia/CATHOLIC SUN FILE PHOTO)

In one of the largest public rosary gatherings in the nation, Arizona Catholics will once again gather to honor the Blessed Mother under her title of Our Lady of Fatima. The colorful, annual event known as the Arizona Rosary Celebration takes place Oct. 12-13.

It’s the 37th annual celebration that calls Catholics from around the state to unite in praying the rosary. This year’s event falls on the 96th anniversary of the last apparition of the Blessed Mother to the three children of Fatima. Her messages there implored that the faithful pray the rosary in reparation and for the conversion of sinners.

Thousands of Catholics from all over the state are expected to attend the two-day celebration that takes place in Tucson and Phoenix. Fr. James Presta of Chicago, who will deliver the keynote address at both locations, holds numerous degrees, including a doctoral degree in sacred theology from the Pontifical University Marianum in Rome.

Mario Fierros, one of those who helped organize ARC 2013, said it’s particularly important for the faithful to participate this year.

“Our nation is at a crossroads — our moral values and freedom of religion are at stake,” Fierros said. “The rosary is the weapon for this spiritual battle. Evil succeeds when good people do not do anything.”

John Garcia, of the Knights of Columbus, said he thought it was fortuitous that the Arizona Rosary Celebration falls on the Fatima anniversary this year.

“Mary’s message to the children — that we need reparation for our sins, we need conversion and we need to come together in prayer — that’s urgent today too,” Garcia said.

The blessing procession of parish groups, religious orders, lay organizations and families, one of the noteworthy features of the Arizona Rosary Celebration, will again delight the crowd as participants carry colorful banners, statutes and images of Our Lady forward and past the stage where they will receive the blessing of their respective bishop.

As in previous years, there’s a poster contest. Children from Catholic schools and religious education programs throughout both dioceses are invited to create a poster for the event. The winners of the contest — 24 from each diocese — will attend a pizza party luncheon with their respective bishops in December.

The Arizona Rosary Celebration is sponsored by the Knights of Columbus Arizona State Council. The Diocese of Tucson and the Diocese of Phoenix as well as the Legion of Mary, Catholic Daughters of the Americas and many other lay organizations also assisted with planning the Arizona Rosary Celebration 2013.

Arizona Rosary Celebration

When: 2 p.m. Oct. 13

Where: Phoenix Convention Center, Halls F and G, 100 N. Third Street, Phoenix

Info: www.azrosary.com