Bishop O'Connell celebrates with Altar Rosary Network
By Dorothy K LaMantia, Correspondent
More than 200 Rosarians came together to celebrate the 21st area-wide gathering of the network of Rosary Altar Societies of Monmouth and Ocean Counties, Oct. 3, in St. Barnabas Parish, Bayville.
The Rosary Altar Societies of eight parishes – Visitation, St. Martha, and St. Dominic, all in Brick; St. Peter, Point Pleasant Beach; St. Pio Pietrelcina, Lavallette; St. Juniper Serra, Seaside Park; St. Mary of the Lake, Lakewood, and St. Barnabas—participate in the network, which brings individual confraternities together for mutual support and exchange of ideas and information in their collective mission to promote devotion to the Blessed Mother and the Rosary.
The network gathers annually for prayer, Mass, and a luncheon during the first week of October, the month the Church dedicates to the Rosary.
Beginning with the recitation of the Rosary, the morning was highlighted by the presence of Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., who celebrated the Mass with Father Stanley Lukaszewski, pastor of the host parish. They were assisted by Deacon Stanley Kendrick.
The presence of pastors and parochial vicars from the participating parishes imparted a sense of appreciation for the society whose mission includes the care of altar linens and wholehearted support of pastor and parish.
“There is no better news for us than the angel’s words: ‘Nothing is impossible with God,’ said Bishop O’Connell in his homily. “Take these words home with you.”
“Mary was the channel that brought Jesus into the world. There is no better news for us. Mary’s strength defines us as Christian. It is hard to grasp, but let’s remember what faith and grace can do in our lives. Nothing is impossible with God … not the healing of our deepest hurts or the troubles strangling our world, our families, and, sadly, even our Church. Our stance, like Mary, should be, ‘I am a servant of the Lord. Let it be done to me as you say.’”
After the reception of Holy Eucharist, the presidents of each parish society, carrying a long-stem red rose, processed to the altar to place it in a vase near the statue of Mary as a soloist sang Schubert’s “Ave Maria.”
As the Mass ended, a joyful rendition of “Hail, Holy Queen” set the mood for the congregation’s move to their luncheon in the Ramada Inn, Toms River.
What makes the Altar-Rosary Society – dating back centuries – so meaningful to contemporary women?
According to society members, the Rosarian experience helps heal personal hurts, develops friendships, deepen individual faith, and empower members to evangelize to create a more loving world.
Phyllis Ludovico, Altar-Rosary Society president in St. Peter Church, Point Pleasant Beach, reflected, “The Blessed Mother made me do it. She brought me to it, in mysterious ways.”
She recounted how her devotion to Mary healed her pain over losing two sons. “It was like she was saying: ‘I lost my Son just as you have.’ She stopped my crying.”
“It is an important ministry for today’s woman, she added, “because it brings us together. We have certain needs, and Mary relates to us. God knew we’d need the comfort and understanding of another woman and the joy of coming together.
“At our meetings, our three-minute testimonials allow women to share the faith and the wonders God’s done in our lives, and we share it with others. We visit nursing homes to pray the Rosary with residents, and now we plan on beginning a program called Morningstar to invite children to practice saying it.”
Linda Verheyen, St. Dominic Altar Rosary president, said, “It is an honor to belong and to lead in Mary’s ministry. So many of our women donate time to care for the parish, the altar linens. But we also invite others to pray the Rosary with us after Mass the first Sunday of the month – and we have men joining us. Praying it brings peace.”
Miriam Quasin, St. Mary of the Lake, stated, “Being with these women keeps you sane and close to God. The Rosary is a weapon to keep evil away. It keeps us peaceful in the face of the trauma in today’s world.”
“When I was a child, the Mass was in Latin, which I didn’t understand, but I knew the prayers of the Rosary,” said Denise Marcell, society president in St. Barnabas. “When I pray to Mary, I receive comfort and guidance, so I promote the Rosary to everyone I meet. It is a prayer God gave us to draw us closer to him through his mother.”[[In-content Ad]]