Lay ecclesial ministers and interested lay faithful will gain a deeper understanding of the rosary with “The Rosary: Spiritual Strength for our Times,” presented by Father Donald Calloway, MIC, at Sacred Heart Major Seminary. Father Calloway will serve as the keynote speaker for the annual LEM Speaker Series event to be held on November 10th.
“We live in times when everything is being redefined. People are now challenging and questioning truths that were taken for granted in the past,” said Father Calloway. “We need to get back to the basics, and the rosary is the catechetical tool that can teach people the basics of the faith. It’s Christianity 101.”
Father Calloway’s passion for the rosary began in his late teens when he found a book about the Blessed Mother on his parents’ bookshelf. His mother and father had come into the Catholic Church only three years prior to his own conversion at age twenty-one. Father Calloway read the book cover to cover overnight. The next day, he went to a Catholic Church to talk to a priest and saw a group of women in the sanctuary praying a rosary; he didn’t know what to make of it.
“I thought they were doing some sort of incantation to I-don’t-know-who, and they were praying very fast. It didn’t seem ‘churchy’ to me because everything I knew about church was from TV,” Father Calloway said.
The women invited him to pray with them and taught him how to pray the rosary as he returned to the church almost daily for Mass.
“I fell in love with it. To me, the rosary was like an antidote that got the poison out of my soul and out of my heart,” said Father Calloway. “I realized that to pray the rosary is to pray the word of God. Almost the entirety of the prayers come right out of the New Testament.”
Ordained in 2003 with the Marians of the Immaculate Conception, Father Calloway has written fifteen books, including 10 Wonders of the Rosary, Under the Mantel: Marian Thoughts from a 21st Century Priest, and 26 Champions of the Rosary: The Essential Guide to the Greatest Heroes of the Rosary. He will draw from the books and his own experience for the November talk.
Dr. Kevin Clarke, Dean of the Institute for Lay Ministry at Sacred Heart, welcomes Father Calloway’s insight on the history of the rosary, the many saving miracles and conversions it has claimed, and the way it can serve as a shield in modern times.
“We are especially grateful to have Father Donald Calloway here to inspire attendees to take up the rosary for the building up of ministry in the Church,” Dr. Clarke said. “His own ministry has edified Catholics around the world. We are most pleased that he has brought his powerful witness to the Institute of Lay Ministry's “In the Heart of the Church” series.”
As the new evangelization calls lay ecclesial ministers and all faithful Catholics to “unleash the Gospel,” Father Calloway believes the rosary plays an essential role in the effort.
“So many people don’t know the Christian story. They treat it like it’s a myth or a fable, or they have misunderstandings about Mary or about Jesus as God, without realizing it’s all true,” said Father Calloway. “What better tool than what the missionaries used in days of old, the rosary? It’s so simple that anyone from a child to a biomolecular scientist can do it. Not only can it give us hope but it gives us common sense and reason as well.”
Father Calloway points to the Luminous Mysteries as an example. In the second mystery, the Wedding at Cana, Jesus attends a wedding and recognizes the beauty of marriage between a man and a woman as he performs his first miracle.
”In the past, no one thought twice about it but today marriage is in question,” said Father Calloway. “We also know from a recent study that 69% of Catholics no longer believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. When we meditate upon the fifth luminous mystery — the Institution of the Eucharist in the rosary, we realize it is real and the source and summit of our faith — it’s Jesus. It’s simple, but I think it can be a big part of bringing the faith back to people’s lives.”
Perhaps the most recognized Catholic devotion, the rosary can be a valuable resource for lay ecclesial ministers. Father Calloway will encourage attendees in ministry to tap into the rosary to supplement the teaching of the Church.
“Every lay ecclesial minister is pointing people to Christ through the sacraments, and the rosary is a gateway to that. The rosary works no matter what your ministry — to married couples, youth ministry, prison ministry,” Father Calloway said. “Just like the Blessed Mother always points to Jesus, that’s what Our Lady’s rosary does as well. No matter what the ministry, you can find a creative way to bring in the rosary.”
Dr. Clarke encourages lay ecclesial ministers to attend the presentation to gain a greater appreciation for the rosary as a tool in their personal lives and ministry.
“Ongoing formation is crucial for anyone involved in lay ecclesial ministry,” said Dr. Clarke. “The annual ‘In the Heart of the Church’ series not only gives attendees a vital opportunity for formation, but also a great chance to reconnect with us and with one another.”
Space for “The Rosary: Spiritual Strength for our Times” is limited. Register at shms.edu/speakerseries. The event will take place at Sacred Heart on Thursday, November 10th from 12 noon to 3 p.m. The LEM Speaker Series is free to attendees and includes lunch.