Msgr. Dennis Apoldite, episcopal vicar of Mercer County and pastor of Sacred Heart Parish, Trenton, and Bishop O'Connell, were present for the Ewing Rosary Crusade.
Msgr. Dennis Apoldite, episcopal vicar of Mercer County and pastor of Sacred Heart Parish, Trenton, and Bishop O'Connell, were present for the Ewing Rosary Crusade.
Amid the busyness of a typical Saturday afternoon on Pennington and Olden Avenues in Ewing, a sense of quiet and prayer prevailed Oct. 15 on the front lawn of Incarnation Church where Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., and a group of 40 people prayed before the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The gathering in Ewing was one of more than a dozen taking place in parishes around the Diocese, and among the more than 23,000 groups from across the country that participated in an organized Public Square Rosary Crusade at noon to mark the 105th anniversary of Fatima and Our Lady’s call to conversion.

Organized each year by America Needs Fatima, the gatherings are typically held on the Saturday closest to Oct. 13, the feast of the last apparition of Our Lady of Fatima. On Oct. 13, 1917, the “Miracle of the Sun” occurred when an estimated 70,000 pilgrims traveled to the Cova da Iria field in Fatima, Portugal, to witness a miracle promised by the Blessed Mother. Our Lady appeared six times to three children, on the 13th of each month from May to October 1917, each time exhorting them to continuous prayer.

Prayer was indeed the word in Ewing, where a giant banner at the Public Square Rosary Crusade read: “Praying the Rosary for America … As human efforts fail to solve America’s key problems, we turn to God, through His Holy Mother, asking His urgent help.”

“This is a very nice and good experience bringing people together to pray for our country, for peace and for all people,” Msgr. Dennis Apoldite, episcopal vicar of Mercer County, said of the event that drew parishioners mostly from the Cohort parishes of Incarnation-St. James, Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish, West Trenton, and Sacred Heart Parish, Trenton, where he serves as pastor. “And it was nice to have our Bishop here, to pray with us and to witness his love of the Blessed Mother.”

Noting that it was the first year that the three Cohort parishes were participating in the rally together, event organizer Michelle Perone of Incarnation-St. James Parish added how pleased she was to see the turnout – people of varying ages, including young people – and parishes in attendance.

“I’m very happy for us and I’m very happy for our Blessed Mother,” said Perone.

Along with reciting the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary, the group also prayed the Angelus, Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel; Fatima Prayers; Prayer of Total Consecration by St. Maximilian Kolbe; The Divine Praises; the Litany to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the Divine Mercy Chaplet. Marian hymns Immaculate Mary and Hail, Holy Queen were also sung.

“The Rosary is a powerful tool and it’s uplifting to me that people all over the country are praying at this time” even in areas that had sustained serious circumstances such as forest fires and devastation from hurricanes. Of course, prayers continue for a complete end to the global pandemic, Perone said.

“There are a lot of woes in this country, but we can’t turn against God, we have to persevere and turn toward God and the Blessed Mother,” Perone said.

First-time participant Pat McIntyre of Sacred Heart Parish was drawn to attend the rally after reading about it in the parish bulletin. She said she has been praying the Rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet daily ever since she was a teenager when she first began taking care of ill family members and relatives.

“She is my go-to person,” McIntyre said of the Blessed Mother.

Trinitarian Father Stan DeBoe, pastor of Incarnation-St. James Parish, spoke of how he viewed the rally as an evangelization tool.

The Incarnation is about the Blessed Mother’s giving birth to the Savor of the World who is the Good News, he said. “And if we are to follow her example, then all of us have a responsibility to give birth to the Good News and share it with the world.

“She’s our example,” Father DeBoe said as he looked upon the statue of Our Lady. “She’s right in front of us.”