New Bedford rally emphasizes the power of the Rosary


By Matthew Laird
Diocesan Seminarian
matthew.laird@sjs.edu

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. — This was not your typical rally. 

While the idea of a rally can often suggest belligerent crowds armed with picket signs and bullhorns, the individuals at this Catholic rally were “armed” with Rosary beads and prayer pamphlets, congregating in the name of peace. 

Held on October 13 at Fort Rodman/Fort Taber on Rodney French Boulevard in New Bedford, the “Rosary Coast to Coast Rally” commemorated the 102nd anniversary of the final apparition of Our Lady in Fatima on Oct. 13, 1917. 

Beginning with a procession of a statue of Our Lady, the faithful were led to the top of the scenic peninsula. There the pilgrims participated in a recitation of all 20 decades/mysteries of the Rosary, led by priests, religious Brothers and Sisters, seminarians, and youth of the diocese. Various songs and hymns were also performed. 

Keynote addresses were given by Father Richard Wilson, pastor of Holy Family Parish in East Taunton and Vicar General of the diocese, and Father Christopher Peschel, administrator of Our Lady of Grace Parish in Westport. 

Isabella Levesque, Katelyn Belmore, and Josh Morin also contributed to the event by portraying St. Jacinta, Lucia, and St. Francisco, the visionaries of Fatima, respectively. 

The day of prayer was organized by Edwin Aldarondo of New Bedford, Jane Wilcox of Assonet, Father Alan Wharton, F.I. and the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate in New Bedford, and many others.

Wilcox, a parishioner of St. Bernard Parish in Assonet, fondly credited her ministerial work in the diocese for her involvement with the program. 

“I had the opportunity to go to parishes, schools, nursing homes and assisted living facilities during the year of the anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun to speak about the story of Fatima and Our Lady’s call for conversion and fasting,” Wilcox told The Anchor. “It was a wonderful opportunity to witness to the faith and love that people in the diocese have for Our Lady. Therefore, it became natural for me to become involved in ‘Rosary Coast to Coast’ as we continue to make Our Lady’s requests heard.” 

 “I was given great peace when I witnessed the love and faith of the people who were present at Fort Taber in New Bedford as we united our prayers for our nation, Church and families,” she added. “It is also interesting that during this time of Spiritual warfare we prayed at the location of a fort! May Our Holy Mother hear our fervent prayers.” 

Edwin Aldarondo, a parishioner of St. Anthony’s Parish in New Bedford, played a leading role in organizing the event. He was able to provide The Anchor with a historical background of “Rosary Coast to Coast.”

“In the year 1571, when faced with an invasion of Europe by the Ottoman Turks, Pope Pius V sought the intervention of Our Lady in anticipation of the battle of Lepanto on October 7,” he said. “Pope Pius V formed the Holy League of Nations and ordered the churches of Rome opened for prayer day and night and urged the faithful to invoke the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary through the prayer of the Rosary.”

“Although the Muslims greatly outnumbered the Christians, the Holy League was victorious in saving Europe from the invasion,” he told The Anchor. “That victory led Pope Pius V to establish October 7 as the feast of Our Lady of Victory, later renamed the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary by Our Lady of Fatima in Her last apparition of October 13, 1917.” 

In his address to the crowd, Father Peschel reiterated the immense Spiritual power of the Rosary as seen in the events of Lepanto.

“Thus, we see that the most powerful weapon that day was not a gun or a cannon, but the one carried at the side of faithful Catholics who took arms invoking our Blessed Mother’s powerful intercession.” 

Wilcox insisted on the need for “another Lepanto” in the Church today.

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“Due to the fact that we are currently waging Spiritual warfare in our nation, it is vital that we give heed to our Mother and request her to step in and help us,” she writes. “We need another Lepanto miracle where events suddenly changed as Catholics prayed the Rosary at the request of Pope Pius V and Europe preserved her Christianity against all odds.” 

The power of the Rosary to change the course of history can also be seen in modern occurrences. 

In 2015, when Poland was in a critical state faced with threats of a loss of democracy, a loss of Christian faith and values, including infringement of their country’s borders, the bishops of Poland came together and rallied the Catholic faithful to pray a 54-day Rosary Novena which began on August 15, the feast day of Our Lady of the Assumption, and ended on October 7, the feast day of Our Lady of the Rosary.

“It was from this great initiative that a ‘Catholic spark’ was ignited in Poland and numerous other Catholics countries across the world to pray the 54-day Rosary novena and to participate in a ‘coast to coast’ Rosary around their borders,” Aldarondo added. “In doing so, they asked the Blessed Mother, who is one of the most powerful combatants against the forces of evil, to undo the evil and to change the world and our Church for the better, by the means provided to us by Our Lady.” 

The New Bedford Catholic response to all of this began in the spring of 2018 by a very small group of faithful Catholics from different parishes who came together at St. Anthony of Padua Church to talk about the crisis in our Church and nation. 

“It was agreed that we had to do something as Catholics, beginning in each of our parishes, by making sacrifices, extra hours of Adoration and Rosary prayer and by promoting the 54-day Rosary Novena and to establish and promote the ‘Rosary Coast to Coast’ in a suitable local coastal area,” Aldarondo told The Anchor.

“Fort Rodman/Fort Taber was chosen as a venue for the ‘Rosary Coast to Coast’ because of its location, its beauty, its space to accommodate a large crowd, and because the centerpiece of the park is the historic Fort Rodman Military Installation, built between 1857 and 1871 as part of the nation’s coast defense system, thus connecting it to the military events of Lepanto.”

Charisma DaSilva, a parishioner of St. Anthony’s in New Bedford who oversaw the projection of prayers and lyrics on TV screens flanking the main stage, provided her own impressions of the day.

“My husband Steven and I have been part of the ‘Rosary Coast-to-Coast’ committee of New Bedford since 2018,” she told The Anchor. “My family — my husband, my three children, and myself — have had the blessing of attending the event in both 2018 and 2019. It is a great witness to our faith.”

 “The gathering of lay people and religious to pray for the intentions of the Church is a powerful testimony that we can participate in our own simple ways to bring the necessary change in our society, Church community and within our own families,” she stated. “It was also a great way to respond to Mary’s call for prayer and reparation.” 

For more photos of the event visit The Anchor Facebook page. 


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