A month or two ago I received in the mail a large banner and inside was a letter: “Thank you for becoming a Rally Captain in the 2011 Public Square Rosary Crusade” on October 15. I didn't volunteer for anything, but I thought that Mary wanted me to do it. So I went into it all the way like I usually do. I discovered later that my wife Jaga, a holy woman, volunteered me on the phone.
I put everything I had into it........a blurb and flyer in the Church bulletin on successive Sundays and submitted an article for the local newspaper, which they did not run. As a safety valve alternative, I also submitted a blurb, which they did run for two days in their “Church Briefs” column. However, I used the article on my blog and sent it to every e-mail address I knew in the area, including Protestants and preachers in an ecumenical effort. For all of that effort, only 24 people showed up......about the same as we got in three or four previous attempts with little promotion. This indicated that the most effective medium is word of mouth. True, we had to compete with the annual Bob Evans Farm Festival that attracts about 50,000 people every year. It was a little disappointing albeit not surprising, but something to build on.
All of that promotion still served a very important purpose......a great opportunity to promulgate a deep message to the hundreds of people who did not participate. That Mary's appeal at Fatima; Fr. Peyton's Rosary Crusade; the power of public prayer; and why we need prayer and repentance to help solve our country's intractable problems, most of which have a spiritual component. It was also an opportunity to ask the sick and shut-ins as well as distant friends and family to join in and pray the rosary at noon on October 15.
Inspiring were those who did show up. When my family arrived 20 minutes early, Bob Murphy, an 84 year old prayer warrior --a retired Goodrich Sales Executive and a World War II Navy veteran-- with cane in hand was already standing there, front and center despite recent surgery. That was an inspiration. His wife brought a couple of teen age grandsons to bring in some young blood. Karen Stapleton brought three of her little granddaughters with the prayer power of children. Cullen Harris, a college student from Portsmouth and an enthusiastic new convert, drove an hour to participate. Then there were two vigorous middle age men: Mike Haas and Mike Merry, the president of Gallia County Right to Life and a veteran of some 28 March for Life rallies in Washington. Mike Haas volunteered to fix our banner with two poles and a wooden border for next year. So we won't have any problem with the wind that made it impossible to hold the banner.
The rally itself was beautiful on a sunny windy day. I opened it up with an eight minute talk on the message and a little instruction on how to pray the rosary......i.e., the focus on meditation with the repetitive prayer as background music, etc. I also recognized Fred Edelmann, who on his deathbed requested that the Knights of Columbus lead the rosary before each Mass on the first Saturday and Sunday of every month. Thus he left a legacy 16 years ago that continues today. Our pastor, Fr. Joseph Hamm followed with a prayer and introduced each Luminous Mystery with a related scripture reading to demonstrate that the rosary is very biblical. Different men and women lead the Apostles Creed, etc. and each decade. Fr Tom then closed the rally with a prayer and blessing, followed by my thanks for attending since the participation of each person is so important.
I was a little disappointed, but yet had a warm feeling and satisfaction in being able to do a little something for Mary. We learned from this experience and will be back at it again next year, hoping to build on this in answering Mary's call at Fatima.
I might add as a postscript, that I received a bonus reward. For the longest time I wanted to have a blog, but didn't know how to go about it. As I was promoting and preparing for the rally, I used the www.americaneedsfatima.org website and stumbled on a link it had to Google for creating a blog. Now I have another opportunity to serve the Lord and have another outlet for my many writings. Thank you Mary and my thanks to the America Needs Fatima Apostolate for the privilege of being Rally Captain.