NORTH MYRTLE BEACH — The courtyard was nearly full outside Our Lady Star of the Sea Church as people came from around the state for the diocesan Rosary Celebration on Oct. 10. Many brought decorated statues of Mary to carry in the procession.
One of the larger contingencies came from one of the smallest places. A group of about 70 from St. John of the Cross in Batesburg filled a chartered bus and seven cars.
Rosalyn Callahan from Our Lady Star of the Sea probably spoke for everyone present when she shared her reason for coming: “For the love of Jesus Christ and the love of Mary and the love of the Catholic Church, actually. It’s all in one word for me: God.”
The Rosary Celebration is an annual event scheduled for the Sunday closest to the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. This year’s event concluded the Year of the Rosary and began the Year of the Eucharist. Bishop Robert J. Baker led the ceremony.
“We pray the rosary for the cause of life,” said Bishop Baker, “for family life, for world peace, in reparation for sins against the holy Eucharist, and in reparation for sins of abuse against children.”
The bishop explained that Mary is the mother of the Lord of the Eucharist. We pray to Mary for her intercession. He spoke of the rosary and Eucharist combined as being “weapons of mass construction that can bring peace and healing to our lives.”
Father Edmund McCaffrey, a retired priest and former abbot of Belmont Abbey, was the keynote speaker at the Rosary Celebration.
“The face of the Son belongs to Mary,” he said, and “the blood of Christ was the blood of Mary. If we love the Eucharist, we have to love Mary. If we love Mary, we have to love the Eucharist.” He urged everyone to become “altar lovers and tabernacle huggers,” meaning we should love the Mass and eucharistic adoration.
Father McCaffrey described the rosary as a “compendium of the teachings of the church.” He reminded everyone that “devotion to Mary always brings victory. … Satan will leave when he hears the name of Mary.”
He encouraged all present to pray the rosary, and used examples from history to emphasize that one person can make a difference. One person’s vote gave statehood to Texas, California, Oregon, Washington, and Idaho, and one electoral vote gave the American presidency to both Thomas Jefferson and Rutherford B. Hayes.
Father McCaffrey explained that the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, originally named Our Lady of Victory, was designated by Pope St. Pius V after the vastly outnumbered Christian fleet defeated the powerful Muslim navy in the Battle of Lepanto on Oct. 7, 1571. Victory was attributed to the power of many people praying the rosary.
Following Father McCaffrey’s talk, Bishop Baker began the rosary, using the Luminous Mysteries, while the crowd processed into the church. One decade was said in Spanish.
At the ceremony in the church, two young men from Our Lady of Hope Community in St. Augustine, Fla., gave personal testimonies that concurred with Father McCaffrey’s words. Both are recovering from drug addiction.
One man said he prays the Hail Mary in times of temptation. The other young man described being hospitalized for heroin addiction and said that medical treatment only addressed his body, not his soul. Both men credit the rosary and eucharistic adoration, along with the structured program, for helping them begin their lives anew.
The ceremony concluded with exposition and adoration.