By Fr. Michael Accinni Reinhardt
The Catholic Sun
The Blessed Mother is beauty which must be reflected in the world, said Bishop Patrick J. Zurek of Amarillo, the guest speaker at the 43rd annual Arizona Rosary Celebration Oct. 21 at the Phoenix Convention Center.
The Arizona Rosary Celebration brings the Dioceses of Tucson and Phoenix together in honor of the Blessed Mother, and to offer their united intentions under her patronage with separate events in their respective cities.
This year the Arizona Rosary Celebration highlighted Our Lady under the title of Our Lady of Częstochowa, the iconic image of the “Black Madonna” of Częstochowa in Poland.
The bejeweled wooden icon has been venerated in the Church since the 14th century and has many stories and legends attached to it, with its origin unknown, but its purpose driven by faith and inspiration throughout the centuries. The image has been a beacon of hope in Poland, as a country that has suffered gravely the effects of sin, war and oppression. The National Shrine of Our Lady of Częstochowa is located in Doylestown, Pennsylvania.
During his keynote speech, Bishop Zurek emphasized the simplicity and uncomplicated way of the Blessed Mother, and that her purpose in the world was predetermined as a light in the darkness.
“Mary had her whole life planned,” he said. In this way we realize that her betrothal to St. Joseph, and her great fiat to God, through the Angel Gabriel as His instrument were part of God’s plan and Mary agreed.
Like Our Lady, “We give light to others and our culture, and play a significant role in the transformation of others,” Bishop Zurek said.
Such transformation comes in light of the beauty of the Catholic faith, and the role the Blessed Mother has played in the history of salvation and the love that the Church gives her as the Mother of God. “We have the capacity to bring light back into the culture, and beauty, love and grace.” Bishop Zurek continued.
The aim of the Arizona Rosary Celebration is to foster a spirit of prayer and intercession among the faithful, by praying and promoting the Rosary and devotion to Our Lady who was in fact the first Christian, saying “yes” to God by her great fiat.
The opening procession at the Phoenix Convention Center included various groups of the Diocese of Phoenix, from parishes to organizations, with some donning the costumes of indigenous peoples.
“We do this for prayer and honor to our mother,” said Jose Garcia, a dance leader for Matachines Aztec Teyokoyni from Holy Cross Parish in Mesa. The dance group has been dancing at events like the Arizona Rosary Celebration for years.
A beautiful array of the most colorful costumes accentuated the procession line, with studded bejeweled fabric and plumaged head-pieces. Garcia continues to be dedicated to his devotion to Our Lady through the preservation of the ancient Danza de Matachines.
“We as dancers are devoted to the Virgin, and we offer a form of prayer in dance,” added Andres Villalva. The dance of the matachines is a formal ritual tradition often associated with the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe Dec. 12, but is also appropriate for all Marian celebrations.
Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted and Auxiliary Bishop Eduardo A. Nevares of Phoenix and Bishop Edward J. Weisenburger of Tucson presided over the celebration in their respective cities.
“What stands out most is always the bishop’s opening and closing remarks,” explained Melanie Serpa, from Queen of the Holy Rosary Presidium of the Legion of Mary in Phoenix. The Legion of Mary is a group that is dedicated in devotion to the corporal works of mercy, visiting the sick, or imprisoned, and bringing to them a prayerful presence. The words of the bishop echoed in the hearts of those present. Serpa, who attended her third celebration, attributed the bishop as saying, “We all need a true devotion to Mary, she is our intercession.”
Reflecting on the day’s event, Serpa was touched by the fact that so many would come out to honor Our Lady, but yet that so many more should also respond to the annual invitation. Serpa intends to become more actively involved by ensuring more parish communities realize the value of the annual celebration and work to get more to respond.
The Rosary is a powerful domestic expression of the faith that reflects the intentions of the Church at large. By praying the Rosary together at home, families assist in the strengthening of the domestic church which serves to emulate the Church Universal. The Arizona Rosary Celebration allows for all of the groups that often pray the Rosary and work under the spiritual guidance of the Blessed Mother to come together and celebrate in thanksgiving in honor of the prayer that is offered like roses for Our Lady to intercede for the faithful.