(photo courtesy of Our Lady of Fatima Phoenix/Facebook)

In the midst of continual political and social turmoil plus the ravages of Hurricane Harvey comes a call to repentance, prayer, conversion and peace.

Arizona Rosary Celebration, now in its fifth decade, takes place Oct. 21 in Tucson and Oct. 22 in Phoenix. The Virgin Mary is being honored this year under her title of Our Lady of Fatima, in recognition of the 100th anniversary of her apparitions in Fatima, Portugal.

The Rosary Celebration draws thousands of Catholics each year to the downtown Phoenix Convention Center for a day of inspiration that includes confession, a concert, a blessing procession and the recitation of the Rosary plus a keynote address. A poster contest leading up to the event invites children in kindergarten through eighth grade to create a poster that shows their family praying before Our Lady of Fatima. Winners will have their posters displayed at the event and will also be invited to a pizza luncheon with Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted at a future date.

Bishop Ricardo Ramirez, CSB, bishop emeritus of Las Cruces, will be the speaker at this year’s celebration. Bishop Ramirez, who recently authored “Power from the Margins: The Emergence of the Latino in the Church and Society,” was appointed to two terms as the Commissioner of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom and also represented the U.S. Bishops at the Fifth General Conference of Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean in Aparecida, Brazil, in 2007.

Arizona Rosary Celebration

When: 2-4:15 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 22

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

This year’s celebration will honor Our Lady of Fatima to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Blessed Mother’s apparitions at Fatima, Portugal.


John Garcia, a member of the Knights of Columbus and one of the organizers of the Arizona Rosary Celebration, likened the event to a spiritual inoculation.

“I think we do a lot to take care of our physical health but we need things to take care of our spiritual health,” Garcia said. “It’s like your flu shot.”

He said the celebration also reminds him of a family reunion. “I go back every year and see my friends from around the state — people I might not see all the time. It’s a big family coming together.”

Fittingly, an Our Lady of Fatima pilgrim statue will be on display during the Arizona Rosary Celebration. Debbie Engard, a parishioner from St. Thomas the Apostle, will escort the statue, which travels the country throughout the year — seated as a passenger and not as mere luggage.

“This particular statue has been associated with many miracles,” Engard said. “You just know there’s a special presence when the statue is there.” The children of Fatima, Engard said, are the perfect example of what can happen when a person begins to follow Our Lady’s request to pray the Rosary daily.

“It can change hearts,” she said. “Can you imagine what would happen if the rest of the world responded the same way to Our Lady’s request?”

Raul Chavez, another Knight of Columbus helping to organize the Arizona Rosary Celebration, said he’s been praying the Rosary since he was a little boy. “When you pray the Rosary alone it’s one thing, but when you do it in communion with thousands of others, it’s an experience that is unique. There’s nothing else that
can match it.”