COLUMBIA—The ninth annual Diocese of Charleston Rosary Celebration focused on the message of hope found through faith in Christ, the intercession of Mary, and living a life of prayer and concern for others.
About 150 people attended the Oct. 9 event at St. Joseph Church. It included music and a renewal of the consecration of the diocese to Mary. The crowd recited a prayer to Our Lady of South Carolina — Our Lady of Joyful Hope, and Msgr. Richard D. Harris, vicar general, celebrated Mass.
Sts. Cyril and Methodius Sister Pamela Smith spoke on “Saved in Hope: The Encyclical of Pope Benedict XVI,” and focused on his 2007 work, “Spe Salve.” Sister Pam is the director of Catechesis and Christian Initiation for parishes and schools.
She said the encyclical urges the faithful to focus their lives on the eternal hope promised by Christ’s resurrection.
“Hope is clearly based in faith,” she said. “No matter what our present circumstances are, there is a much bigger picture. In the light of eternity, we must be people of hope.”
Modern American culture can work against hope because of too much focus on individualism, which often leads to loneliness, frustration and isolation, she said. No amount of success or wealth is meaningful unless a person also has faith in God and a solid moral base, she continued.
“People are always called to have a reverent regard for the ways in which God is using their lives and the fact we are imbedded in the community,” Sister Pam said. “When we separate ourselves from that, that is the ultimate despair.”
Mary is a prime example of someone who relied on the importance of family, community and a strong faith in God to help her through the difficult times in her life.
“If we meditate on the truth of the Gospel, with time we begin to have a broader faith that God is doing things beyond our ability to help us grow in hope,” Sister Pam said.
Father Stanley Smolenski, director of Our Lady of South Carolina-Our Lady of Joyful Hope Shrine in Kingstree, talked about efforts by Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI to rekindle “amazement and gratitude for the Eucharist.”
“The purpose of this celebration is for us to learn to appreciate the Eucharist through Mary,” he said.
“Blessed John Paul II said the rosary is the school of Mary, where we contemplate the face of Christ throughout His life,” he added. “Through the rosary, she makes us familiar with the face of her son.”
Paul and Hilde Meisner were one of five couples from St. Joseph who led the rosary.
“I always go to Our Lady in prayer because I am so close to her, and that’s the way I was brought up,” Mrs. Meisner said. “My parents died when I was a little girl, and she became my mom, and that made a lot of difference in my life. I always have my rosary with me, and I go to her now more than I did when I was younger. This was a wonderful chance to honor her.”