Diocesan News

Bishop Prays with 1,200 Students at St. Joseph’s Co-Cathedral (with slideshow)

Thursday, Oct. 9 was a record-setting day at the recently dedicated Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph in Prospect Heights.

For the first time, the co-cathedral hosted the diocese’s annual Rosary Rally, and this year’s rally attracted nearly 1,200 students and 100 chaperones – the largest group in the rally’s history.

Every pew in the church was filled with students who attend Catholic elementary schools in Brooklyn and Queens. Rosary beads in hand, they all prayed reverently with Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, who highlighted the importance of praying the rosary.

“The prayers of children are really powerful, and your prayers mean a lot to the Church, to your families and to the world,” Bishop DiMarzio told the children, who arrived group-by-group on school buses. “That’s why we gathered today to pray together. It’s important for children to learn how to pray, and the rosary is a great prayer.”

The Rosary Rally is held every October, the month dedicated to the Blessed Mother and the rosary. This year, 14 schools attended: St. Catherine of Genoa/St. Therese of Lisieux Catholic Academy, East Flatbush; St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Academy, Crown Heights; St. Bernard School, Mill Basin; Divine Mercy Catholic Academy, Ozone Park; Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Academy, South Ozone Park; Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Academy, Sunset Park; St. Athanasius School, Bensonhurst; St. Mary Gate of Heaven, Ozone Park; St. Gregory the Great Catholic Academy, Crown Heights; Queen of All Saints School, Fort Greene; St. Francis Xavier Catholic Academy, Park Slope; Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Academy, Forest Hills; St. Adalbert School, Elmhurst; and St Bernadette School, Dyker Heights.

“Today is a special day when we gather all the children from all over the diocese to pray the rosary,” said Barbara McArdle, assistant superintendent in the diocesan Catholic Schools Office, which organizes the annual event. “We have a very strong tradition in our Church, and the rosary is one of the prayerful things that we use to keep that tradition alive. The children become aware that they’re (rosary beads) not necklaces, but they’re beads. The notion that they’re praying on each of the beads is critical.”

In previous years, the rally was held at St. James Cathedral-Basilica, Downtown Brooklyn, which seats 600 people. However, use of the Co-Cathedral allows more students to attend.

“We were happy this year that it (Rosary Rally) was at the co-cathedral, so we could take our students in grades five through eight,” said Sister Joan DiRienzo, M.P.F., principal at St. Bernadette. “Normally we would have it at our own school, but our kids were thrilled today to come to pray with the other schools and with the bishop.”

Msgr. Kieran Harrington, rector of St. Joseph’s Co-Cathedral, started off the day with a visual tour of the church. He pointed out the different Madonnas representing each diocesan apostolate and the murals on the back wall of Our Lady of Fatima and Our Lady of Lourdes.

“The children were very attentive and very interested, and he (Msgr. Harrington) really engaged them so that they could see that they (the Madonnas) represent all nationalities,” said Irene Smith, sixth-grade teacher at Divine Mercy Catholic Academy.

“I was excited because I like learning about God,” said A.J. Luna Jr., a sixth-grader at Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Sunset Park.

“I think it’s fun because you can learn new things about Him. I learned about all these amazing things that are in this cathedral.”

Msgr. Harrington also told the children that they are called to be saints, so he explained to them a little something about each saint adorning the top back wall. He said that their goal should be to someday have their faces on that same wall with the saints.

Bishop DiMarzio led the children in the Luminous Mysteries. He began each decade of the rosary, and the students and chaperones followed along with their beads. Students read corresponding Scripture readings for each of the five mysteries: the Baptism in the Jordan, the Wedding of Cana, the Proclamation of the Kingdom, the Transfiguration and the Institution of the Eucharist.

Diocesan Rosary Rally 2014 at St. Joseph Co-Cathedral

Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio led the recitation of the rosary.

Children read Scripture passages that corresponded with the Luminous Mysteries.

Students showed their appreciation for the bishop.

After prayers, it was time to head back to school.


Exhilarating Experience

“We do that (pray the Rosary) because we want to celebrate Mary and how she gave birth to Jesus and how she is the Queen of Heaven,” said Steven Limonta, a seventh-grader at St. Gregory the Great Catholic Academy.

Steven said he had never prayed with a bishop before and said it was an exhilarating experience, though at times a little nerve-wracking.

“It was awesome,” he said. “It felt very exciting. My heart was racing. I thought I was going to faint!”

After completing the rosary, Bishop DiMarzio spoke about how the purpose of the day was to pray for an increase in religious vocations and for a greater respect for every human person from the time of conception until natural death.

He also told the children that their prayers were for the success of the Synod of the Families in Rome and how the Church is trying to help families be better and happier.

“When families are better, the world is better … the countries in the world are better,” the bishop said. “The families need to stay together. One of the ways that families stay together is that they pray together.”

“Sister (Kathleen Maciej, C.S.F.N.) wanted us to pray for our families, and she told us this morning to think of something to pray for and then pray it when we come here,” said Claire Rooney, a sixth-grader at St. Adalbert School.

Bishop DiMarzio urged the children to ask their families to pray the rosary together once per week. He said that life can be hectic for families these days, but if a parent sees the child praying the rosary, there’s a strong possibility he or she would join in.

On the way out of church, the children had the chance to greet and pose for photos with the bishop.[hr]Slideshow photos by Ed Wilkinson and Jim Mancari.