Flowers for Blessed Mother Credits: Jennifer Murphy
Legion members brought flowers for Blessed Mother Credits: Jennifer Murphy
Pictures of Blessed Mother Credits: Jennifer Murphy
An offering of peace Credits: Jennifer Murphy
Children offering their artwork Credits: Jennifer Murphy
International Living Rosary, whose balloons signify prayers Credits: Jennifer Murphy
Sussex/Morris County President Maria offering flowers Credits: Jennifer Murphy
Fr. Catoir showing the children's artwork Credits: Jennifer Murphy
Blessed Mother's Birthday Celebration: Sussex County Residents Join Celebration
Monday, September 17, 2012 • 11:20pm
PROSPECT PARK, NJ – At the invitation of Rev. John Catoir, members of the Legion of Mary from Sussex, Morris and Passaic Counties came together in a joyous birthday party for Mary, the Mother of God, which was held on September 8, at St. Paul’s Church in Prospect Park.
“When I saw the lavish celebration given to Queen Elizabeth at the 60th anniversary of her coronation, I thought about how heaven must be celebrating Mary’s queenship. I wanted to give her a real human birthday party, with all the traditions, like a birthday cake and everyone singing Happy Birthday' in order to echo the party in heaven,” said Fr. Catoir.
The day began with an offering of flowers to Our Lady, whose nativity is honored each September 8.
This was followed by the prayers of a “Living Rosary.” As the prayers were said, individuals tied their balloons together, so that, at the end of the prayers, a huge rosary was formed. Each color balloon represented a different area in the world, and the leaders of the prayers each spoke a different language: English, Polish, Italian, Spanish and Tagalog. Traditional songs to Mary were included between each decade (set of 10 prayers).
Following the rosary, Mass was concelebrated by Fr. Catoir, from Chester; Msgr. Carroll, from Our Lady of Fatima, Highland Lakes; Msgr. Demkovich, from Sts. Cyril and Methodius, Clifton; and Msgr. Kurtyka, from St. Paul, Prospect Park. During the offertory, Legion members brought donations of food, clothing, gift certificates and money for the poor of Paterson. Some of the youth offered their drawings and other artwork.
During his homily, Fr. Catoir explained that years ago, Cardinal Suenens, from Belgium, "wanted to encourage devotion to Our Blessed Mother and the Holy Spirit." He developed a “fiat rosary,” which was a shorter version, and had asked Pope John Paul II for permission to spread this devotion. The Pope agreed, with the provision that the Cardinal, "would also promote a devotion to Our Lady’s birthday." Cardinal Suenens asked Fr. Catoir to be in charge of this devotion in the United States.
Fr. Catoir has promoted the rosary devotion, but admitted, “I always felt inside that I hadn’t done enough about celebrating her birthday. Today, that feeling has been satisfied.”
Mass was followed by a gala luncheon in the parish hall. International dishes such as arroz and choriza, Filipino noodles, and chicken and pork adobo were served, along with a giant birthday cake.
During the feast, members of the Junior Legion of Mary celebrated with presenting their dances, skits and drawings. A trio of Hawaian dancers swayed, a ballet was performed, and the mysteries were dramatized, with costumes. Many participants won, through a lottery, framed pictures of Blessed Mother.
“What a lovely way to celebrate Our Lady’s nativity,” said Tona Philips, of Ogdensburg.
An entire table of Legion members from Our Lady of Fatima, Highland Lakes was present for the festivities. They were excitedly discussing the welcome they had received when they approached a neighboring parish about starting a new chapter there.
The Legion of Mary began on September 7, 1921. It is a highly structured group, dedicated to prayer and service to neighbors. Members gather weekly to pray the rosary, and accept and report on assignments, which they carry out in pairs. They promise two hours of service weekly, and strive to develop their own prayer lives intently. Some of their works include bringing communion and praying with parish members in nursing homes, bringing a "pilgrim statue" while praying the rosary with families, and encouraging others to develop their faith and prayer life.
Anyone interested in joining should ask their parish priest if there is a local group, or contact Msgr. Demkovich or Msgr. Carroll, the spiritual directors.
Fr. John Catoir invites everyone to his website for daily meditations, which can be found at www.messengerofjoy.com.