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Rosary prayed in dozens of languages to prepare for ‘Global Living Rosary’

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (The Catholic Key) - Dressed in a bright red costume, Aiwal Gon G spoke the first half of the “Hail Mary” in Denka, the language of her native Sudan.

ONE VOICE - Aiwal Gong G leads the “Hail Mary” in Denka, a language of Sudan, as Father Jim Kelleher holds the microphone during a Global Living Rosary at Redemptorist Parish March 10. A huge public rosary will be celebrated May 25 at Kauffman Stadium. (Kevin Kelly/Key)

ONE VOICE - Aiwal Gong G leads the “Hail Mary” in Denka, a language of Sudan, as Father Jim Kelleher holds the microphone during a Global Living Rosary at Redemptorist Parish March 10. A huge public rosary will be celebrated May 25 at Kauffman Stadium. (Kevin Kelly/Key)

After the congregation at Our Lady of Perpetual Help (Redemptorist) Parish responded with the second half in English, she knelt down, leaned forward, and wept for her land, the scene of a continuing genocide.

Denka was one of four dozen languages prayed at the March 10 dress rehearsal for the huge Global Living Rosary, set for May 25, the Feast of Corpus Christi, at Kauffman Stadium, home of the Kansas City Royals.

Anastasia Odongo prayed in Luo, a language of her native Kenya. Her homeland is also beset by violence, but Odongo said she remains happy and confident.

“I am not worried,” she said. “I pray for them every day. We believe in God. We know him.”

Prayers for peace

One purpose of the Global Living Rosary is to seek the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary to bring peace in individual hearts, in families, in communities, in nations, and in the world, said the founder of the Global Living Rosary movement, Father Jim Kelleher, as he implored the crowd that nearly filled the huge midtown Kansas City church.

A priest of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, Father Kelleher is continuing the work of the late Father Patrick Peyton, the legendary “Rosary Priest,” who led massive rosary rallies in the 1940s and 1950s to inspire thousands of Catholic families to pray the rosary together in their homes.

“How powerful are you? Do you have the power of a president?” he asked.

“I suggest you have a much greater power,” Father Kelleher said. “It is the power to gather together in your living rooms, in your own domestic church, and pray the rosary. You will be calling on the Prince of Peace through the intercession of the Queen of Peace. The blessings he will give will radiate through this city.”

Capacity crowd expected

More than a year in the planning by a committee that is drawing together people from both the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph and the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, the Global Living Rosary event hopes to fill Kauffman Stadium, which seats some 40,000 people.

If it does, it will eclipse the largest single public act of Catholic worship in Kansas City — the Oct. 30, 1955, Family Rosary rally led by Father Peyton at the former Municipal Stadium.

Betty Hoag said it can be done.

Hoag, in Kansas City for the dress rehearsal to offer her expertise to the local committee, served on the committee that planned the first ever Global Living Rosary, an event that drew more than 29,000 to the Cotton Bowl in Dallas on May 13, 2005.

“When Mary wants something to happen, it will happen,” Hoag said.

Hoag remembered when Father Kelleher, then serving in Dallas, was inspired to launch the Global Living Rosary movement.

Father Kelleher was leading a group from Dallas on a pilgrimage to the Vatican to witness the beatification of Blessed Mother Teresa. That day, Oct. 19, 2003, was also World Mission Sunday, and the Dallas group prayed with the crowd at St. Peter’s Square a public rosary, offered in the scores of languages of the world.

“Father said, ‘We need to have a living rosary,’“ Hoag recalled. Nineteen months later, tens of thousands prayed together in the Cotton Bowl.

Hoag promised the people who attend that Kansas City event that they will never forget it.

“People in Dallas are still saying, ‘I didn’t realize there were so many nationalities in Dallas,’“ she said. “It is like a big, flowering garden, and they are all Catholic.”

Fifty languages represented

Deacon Justin McNemany, who is leading the local committee, said about 50 languages were heard during the dress rehearsal — the lead half of the Our Fathers and the Hail Marys spoken in one language with the response from the congregation in English.

The languages by world region were divided into the five decades of the rosary — Asia, Oceania, Europe, the Americas, Africa — with each prayer leader dressed in the native costume of their ancestors.

Prayers were sent to heaven in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese. They were heard in Sinhalese, a language of Sri Lanka, in Tagalog, and in a variety of languages from the Pacific Islands.

Prayers were spoken in Croatian, in Polish, in French, in Italian. They were spoken in Portugese, in Spanish, in Hawaiian and in Native American tongues.

It was a congregation that celebrated its diversity and its Catholicism, despite coming from all corners of not only both dioceses but of the world. That did not escape the notice of Redemptorist Father James Shea, pastor of the host parish.

“At Redemptorist, there are no strangers,” he said to the crowd as he led a sign of peace at the end of the rosary. “There are only friends that haven’t met yet.”

The gift of memory

In his homily for the prayer service, Msgr. Raymond Burger told the congregation that memory is one of God’s great gifts.

One of his strongest memories of his own childhood was growing in the faith nurtured in him and his 13 siblings by his parents, said Msgr. Burger, a priest of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.

“Each morning, led by my dad, we participated in the celebration of Mass in that German-Irish community (in Kansas City, Kan.),” he said. “Every day began with the memory of what Jesus had done, and what he continues to do.”

Noting that he is in his 48th year of priesthood, Msgr. Burger said he has celebrated Mass some 30,000 times.

“I reflect on the 30,000 privileges I have had to call down Jesus Christ on the altar under the appearances of bread and wine, to call down the Lord, Jesus Christ each day so that the world might be fed,” he said.

It is not physical food that Jesus offers, but spiritual food, Msgr. Burger said.

“Isn’t that what the Global Living Rosary is all about?” he said. “May this evening bring forth even greater acts of public devotion for the one who is the way, the truth and the life.”

‘It is going to be a day of miracles’

Sprinkling his remarks with “3 p.m., May 25” — the hour and the day of the Kauffman Stadium Global Living Rosary — Father Kelleher urged everyone in the congregation that night to commit to coming that day, to commit to bringing others, and begin immediately praying the rosary as families in homes.

“We know our nation is in trouble,” Father Kelleher said. “Has our heavenly mother left us without an answer? No!”

As she did in Fatima when she entrusted her message to three children, Mary turns to ordinary people to do extraordinary things and change the world, the priest said.

“When thousands come to Kansas City, it is going to be a day of miracles,” he said.

And as Mary did at Fatima, so will Jesus spread his message of love especially in the children who attend, Father Kelleher said.

“He wants to give children the gift of a friendship with him that will last a lifetime,” he said. “When you commit to pray the rosary with your children, you are making a commitment to give your children the most powerful tool they will ever have.”


This story was made available to Catholic Online by permission of The Catholic Key(, official newspaper of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo.



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