Annual event coincides with Diocese of Phoenix’s jubilee

Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted blesses members of the Danza Sueño Guadalupano as they process into the Phoenix Convention Center at the 2016 Arizona Rosary Celebration Oct. 23 of that year. This year’s celebration, scheduled for Oct. 20, is honoring Mary under the title of Our Lady of Guadalupe. (Jesús Valencia/CATHOLIC SUN)

When the Diocese hosts the 44th annual Arizona Rosary Celebration later this month, it will be even more than an installment of an annual rite promoting prayer and intercession through the Rosary while honoring the Blessed Mother. This year, the annual event will honor Mary under her title Our Lady of Guadalupe, the diocesan patroness, to coincide with the diocese’s ongoing 50th anniversary celebrations.

44th annual Arizona Rosary Celebration

2 p.m., Oct. 20

Phoenix Convention Center, 33 S. Third St., Phoenix

Coinciding with the 50th Anniversary of the Diocese of Phoenix, this year’s Arizona Rosary Celebration will honor diocesan patroness Our Lady of Guadalupe.


“The excitement over (this) is very high in the Diocese,” remarked John Garcia, public relations director for the Knights of Columbus Arizona State Council, which has helped coordinate the event for years.

The Oct. 20 gathering will be held at the Phoenix Convention Center. The celebration will also be held the day before in Tucson.

Our Lady of Guadalupe is the title for the Blessed Mother from her appearance to St. Juan Diego, a Mexican convert to Christianity who encountered her in a series of apparitions in the early 1530s near what is now Mexico City. Those visions led an initially skeptical Bishop Juan de Zumárraga to build a church there in her honor.

“I think it points us as Catholic faithful to Mary’s love for us (which) has been a constant throughout the years and what she did with Juan Diego and the bishop,” offered Garcia during an Oct. 5 interview with Michael Dixon on Relevant Radio’s “The Bishop’s Hour.” Dixon will be the Celebration’s Master of Ceremonies.

“That single act of love has caused the conversion of millions over the years and continues to convert the hearts and souls of so many.”

During past Rosary celebrations Mary has been honored under her various titles, including Our Lady of Fatima during the centennial of the Fatima apparitions in 2017 and Our Lady of Mercy during the extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy in 2016.

Fr. Roberto A. Gonzalez, parochial vicar of Tucson’s St. John the Evangelist Parish and this year’s keynote speaker, said in that same Oct. 5 interview he will focus in part on the flowers depicted on the images of Our Lady of Guadalupe as well as her dark-tinted face.

“Those large flowers … pointing in all four directions,” represent balance and “remind us at a time when the Church awaits the return of Christ” to be mindful of the East, Fr. Gonzalez explained. “(Her) face … dark but beautiful … is really a comment on the fact she is not a goddess.”

“She needed the redemption of Our Lord, the precious blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, who touched her at the instant of her conception, preserving her from Original Sin. The face of the virgin comments about the radical message of the redemption,” he said.

Vanessa Rodriguez and Giselle Reyes display their banner at the annual celebration. (Billy Hardiman/CATHOLIC SUN)

Begun more than four decades ago by the Legion of Mary, the Rosary Celebration is now led by the Knights, assisted by the smaller Legion. The Knights expect as many as 3,000 worshippers.

Before the event, from noon until about 1:45 p.m., priests will be available to hear Confessions and signs will point attendees toward the appropriate rooms.

Also at noon, the Blessed Sacrament will be exposed close to the area for Confessions.

At 1:30 p.m., those in attendance will be treated to a pre-celebration concert. Then, at 2 p.m., the Celebration begins with the entrance procession, led by the state’s Fourth Degree Knights and both Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted and Auxiliary Bishop Eduardo A. Nevares. The event will conclude with Benediction.

“Get there early. Have that time for that spiritual moment — you and God and our Holy Mother, so you can really enter the spirit of it,” suggested Dixon.