Hundreds of Catholics in Detroit, Windsor gather to pray for Virgin’s intercession during worldwide initiative

DETROIT — Four hundred and forty-seven years after Pope St. Pius V instituted the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary on Oct. 7, 1571, following the Holy League of Nations’ victory in the famed battle of Lepanto, devotion to the Blessed Mother was again on display Sunday as Catholics in Detroit, Windsor and across the world united under the Virgin’s mantle.

A woman prays the rosary with her children on the steps of the Detroit Riverfront on Oct. 7 during the “Rosary Coast to Coast" rally. Gathered on the riverfront behind the Renaissance Center in downtown Detroit, approximately 550 Catholics waved U.S., Canadian and Vatican flags, sang songs and prayed the rosary at exactly 4 p.m., as their Canadian neighbors across the river did the same.

The cross-border display was part of a worldwide, simultaneous “Rosary Coast to Coast" rally, organized in the spirit of a modern-day Holy League of Nations to pray the beloved sacramental for the protection of the Church and world.

With more than 1,000 rallies planned across the U.S. and on every continent in countries such as Poland, India and Tanzania, Catholics emphasized the need to turn back to God through Mary’s intercession.

“It’s on my heart to pray for God’s blessings on our society and our country," said Fr. Stephen Pullis, director of Evangelization, Catechesis and Schools for the Archdiocese of Detroit, who led the closing benediction. “Our country needs to return to following God’s promises and God’s rule of law and commandments. We need to be more of a Christ-centered society. But we’re also praying for our Church right now in this time, that each of us in our own ministry and our own part, that we return to God fully, and Mary is the one who helps us do that."

The Detroit rally, organized by the World Apostolate of Fatima’s Detroit Archdiocesan Division — also known as the Blue Army — was done in order to “promote peace in the world, and in the nation," said Leonard St. Pierre, president of the Riverview-based apostolate.

“It’s being done at all the borders, and this is the third year it’s been done since it started in Poland," St. Pierre said. “Because our borders connect us with other countries, we need to be praying as a world and as a Church for peace, and to connect ourselves in that way."

The rally started and ended with the singing of “God Bless America," and included the rosary and a litany to the Blessed Virgin. As the rally began, Detroit Catholics flew large flags and waved to the Canadian group, who returned the gesture of unity.

Dan Hubbard, who was attending the rally with his son, Josh, loved the opportunity to display his faith in public.

“It’s a really cool thing," said Hubbard, who attends St. Stephen Parish in New Boston. “It’s about unity in the Church and in the world, and it’s amazing to think about how many people must be doing this right now."

Hubbard said he was particularly praying for family members and for a coworker who had passed away the night before, looking to the Blessed Mother for guidance and protection.

“As we were praying the coronation (mystery), I was looking up at the Renaissance Center, and I was trying to count if there were 12 lights, like the twelve stars in Mary’s crown," Hubbard said. “When I’m praying the rosary, I try to think about the mysteries."

Shannon Grady, 22, and Katie Little, 24, volunteers with the Christ the King Service Corps, were attending the rally to pray for peace and healing during a bitter time in U.S. and worldwide politics.

“The country is in a bit of a sorry state right now, and it needs all of our prayers," said Little, who works at the St. Suzanne-Cody Rouge Community Resource Center on Detroit’s west side.

Grady, a teacher, said she was praying especially for children in Detroit, as well as for balance in her own life.

“I love the Blessed Mother, and I find lots of healing and peace through the rosary," Grady said. “I thought it would be cool to see so many other Catholics in the city praying together. Knowing that you’re fighting the good fight with other people around you, even if you don’t know them, is very cool."