SOUTH YARMOUTH, Mass. — Everyone across the Diocese of Fall River is feeling the effects of life turned upside down by a deadly virus that has aggressively made its way across the world, sickening and even killing thousands. No one is safe from the wave of illness which has become a pandemic in recent weeks.
Yet, a permanent deacon in South Yarmouth, on loan from the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., is trying to, and succeeding in bringing the comfort and hope of Christ to home-bound area Catholics.
Deacon Bill Gallerizzo has turned to a prayer not unfamiliar with folks in and near the Fall River Diocese — the Rosary.
It seems fitting that this powerful prayer, given to us by the Blessed Mother to meditate on her beloved Son, should be a source of solace, since one of the greatest advocates of the Rosary, a priest who is currently being considered for sainthood, Servant of God Father Patrick Peyton, C.S.C., is interred within the diocese.
Deacon Gallerizzo, who has also completed studies in bioethics was moved by the Lord to provide believers with a publication called “The Rosary in Times of Epidemic Disease.”
He told The Anchor, “One of my great joys is doing Benediction for Holy Hour where I usually include the Rosary and for each mystery a reflection on something applicable to the mystery toward current issues, most often Pro-Life and bioethics, and Church teaching on them. Since completing my studies in bioethics, I began sending my regular homilies to about 200 people on six continents in English and Italian. Some have been recorded and broadcast on Cape Cod cable access.
“With my background in sciences, I am a firm believer that we discover things only God knows because we are open to the hints, details, ideas, etc., that He provides and we then recognize the patterns. Hence, there are few coincidences in God’s will.”
Deacon Gallerizzo said the God provided him with the idea for a Rosary in times of epidemic disease because churches are by and large closed and homilies weren’t available for the faithful who can no longer engage in community worship.
“Since many are familiar with the Rosary, and they often go to it when attending Mass is not possible, this seemed like a timely tool for prayerful engagement,” he said. “My only goal is that this is freely given to all who wish to use it. The need is in the here and now. I cannot leave home as my wife’s immune system is not strong. So this was what I could do from here at home.”
A link to the 13-page Rosary booklet can be found HERE. It can be viewed on the site or printed for easier access.
The booklet provides an introduction by Deacon Gallerizzo, instructions on how to pray the Rosary, and a complete listing of the 20 Rosary mysteries, the Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious and Luminous, and their meanings, and the days on which they are normally prayed.
In his introduction Deacon Gallerizzo explains, “At the time of this writing, COVID-19 has circled the globe; some countries have been hit harder than others, but it has been tragically impacting everywhere.
“Countless people are making efforts on many fronts. Some are testing for potential cases, some are treating the sick. Some are researching for vaccines and medicines to halt its decimation. Some are continuing to keep the public supplied with food and essentials. Some are providing much-needed leadership. They all need our prayers.”
Expounding on the crucial need for prayer at this time, Deacon Gallerizzo wrote, “These are times that try our souls. These are times that we all need to pray. The Holy Father, Pope Francis, has reminded us that the Rosary is by far one of our most powerful prayers outside of the Mass. In consideration for all we are facing, these reflections hopefully focus our Spiritual energy toward contemplating God, and away from the crisis and turmoil that clouds our sight from what is truly important and truly lasting. We all need prayer to keep this focus in sight.”
God’s greatest gift to us was His Son’s passion, death and Resurrection. And one of Christ’s greatest gift to His faitful was the Sacraments. But during these unprecedented times, many Catholic faithful cannot receive the Sacraments. Deacon Gallerizzo addressed this heartbreaking situation:
“The Mass is our perfect prayer. But sometimes during adversity — sickness, epidemic, political and social upheaval, natural disasters — we will try to attend Mass, not because of obligation, but because we value beyond all else God’s physical and Spiritual union with each of us individually. Yet, in those times, when we might benefit most readily, it may be impossible under the circumstances. We pray that all those who cannot attend Mass may still benefit from God’s grace; in times of restriction we all may attain Spiritual union with Christ even in face of physical absence and our lack of control. Amen.”
Deacon William Orazio Gallerizzo is a Catholic permanent deacon, incardinated with the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. (Class of 2006), and currently on loan to the Diocese of Fall River. Besides holding degrees in science education and curriculum development from the University of Maryland (College Park), he holds a masters and licentiate in Catholic bioethics from Athenaeum Pontificium Regina Apostolorum, European College, Rome, Italy. Before entering ordained ministry, he taught natural sciences and mathematics, and developed curriculum and instructional programs at the secondary level in modern biology, general physics, mathematics, and civil engineering applications.