[dropcap type=”4″]A[/dropcap]rizona will be home to one of the largest annual public rosary celebrations in the nation this year as thousands are expected to come together in prayer in Tucson Oct. 11 and Phoenix Oct. 12.

This year, its 39th, attendees will honor the Blessed Virgin Mary under her title of the Immaculate Conception.

John Garcia of the Knights of Columbus, spokesman for Arizona Rosary Celebration, said the theme was chosen because Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception is the patroness of the United States.[quote_box_right]

Arizona Rosary Celebration in Phoenix

When: 2 p.m., Oct. 12

Where: Phoenix Convention Center, Halls F and G, 33 S. Third St., Phoenix

Info and poster contest details: azrosary.com

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“During the dark times we face in our country and in other lands where Christians are being persecuted and exterminated by the thousands, we need the intercession of our Blessed Mother,” Garcia said.

Colorful pagentry characterizes the rosary celebration each year. On Oct. 12 in Phoenix, festivities begin with a parade originating at Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish at Ninth Street and Washington at 12:15 p.m. Participants will process with the missionary image of Our Lady of Guadalupe and arrive 30 minutes later at the Phoenix Convention Center a few blocks away.

Matachine dancers with their native attire and drums will venerate the missionary image and dance at the entrance to the convention center until 1:30 pm. Then, as the crowd enters the building, they’ll hear the angelic voices of the St. John Vianney Parish choir.

The sacrament of reconciliation will be available at the convention center from noon to 1:30 p.m.

The keynote speaker this year will be the Very Rev. Juan-Diego Brunetta, Prior of the Domincan Friars of St. Catherine of Siena Priory in New York. Fr. Brunetta is the former director of Catholic Information Services of the Supreme Council of the Knights of Columbus in New Haven, Conn.

Maria Guerrero has atended the rosary event for the last 20 years. She’s a member of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish’s sodailty and arranges for a bus to transport those who would like to attend the celebration. For years, they’ve teamed up with St. Agnes Parish to get people to the venue.

“Our Lady says the rosary is her weapon,” Guerrero said. “If you’ve never attended, this is a powerful event. You won’t want to miss it.”

Mario Fierro of Glendale’s St. Louis the King Parish said he has attended the rosary celebration for the last 25 years. A member of the Legion of Mary, Fierro said the rosary is an important way to keep the family together. “The family that prays together, stays together,” Fierro said.

He also sees it as a way to address many of the conflicts at home and around the globe.

“The rosary is a way to entrust all of that to Our Lady,” Fierro said. “We get streams of graces through the rosary — that’s the way to go.”

One of the highlights of the Oct. 12 event is the blessing procession that takes place inside the convention center. The procession, led by Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted and Auxiliary Bishop Eduardo A. Nevares, begins at 2 p.m. Many organizations and apostolates from throughout the diocese take part, carrying banners, flowers, rosaries and images of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

— By Madeline Valencia, The Catholic Sun.

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