SAN FRANCISCO (CNS) — San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone led hundreds of Catholics praying the rosary through the streets of the city Oct. 8 in a eucharistic procession that wended past City Hall to United Nations Plaza.

“To pray the rosary is to look at Jesus through her eyes, to see him through the lens of her faith and love,” the archbishop told those gathered under a hot noonday autumn sun. The rally included praying the rosary and benediction.

The rosary rally was re-established in 2011 at the initiative of the Legion of Mary on the 50th anniversary Holy Cross Father Patrick Peyton’s Family Rosary Crusade. The priest, who is a candidate for sainthood, is often referred to as “the rosary priest.” His 1961 rosary rally drew a half million people to Golden Gate Park’s Polo Field.

The annual San Francisco rally was timed for October. In 1883, Pope Leo XIII officially dedicated the month of October to the rosary.

Father Peyton was known as the “Rosary Priest” because he tirelessly promoted the powerful prayer of the rosary around the world, preaching to an estimated 28 million people over the course of his life. Father Peyton first proclaimed the phrases “The family that prays together stays together” and “A world at prayer is a world at peace.”

“The world needs Christ more than ever and his mother is the example of how we can carry him to a waiting world,” Archbishop Cordileone said in his homily at the Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral. The Mass was followed by short period of adoration before the Blessed Sacrament and then the archbishop led the procession along some of the city’s busiest thoroughfares to United Nations Plaza.

David Carey and his wife, Josemine, came with their 1-year-old son from St. Margaret Mary Parish in Oakland “to pray, pray for everyone who needs it.”

“We pray the rosary, join with our community to show our support for the Blessed Mother and our church,” Carey told Catholic San Francisco, the archdiocesan newspaper.

“I am here to recite the rosary with the rest of our Catholic brothers and sisters in San Francisco,” said Erson Que of All Saints Parish in Hayward. “I feel when I say the rosary daily and as much as I can, it brings me closer to the Lord which brings me closer to the Blessed Mother.”

In beginning his talk at United Nations Plaza, the archbishop spoke about Father Jacques Hamel, the French priest whose throat was slit by two youths claiming allegiance to the Islamic State. The attack came as he was at the altar celebrating Mass. Pope Francis has waived the normal five-year waiting period after death to begin the sainthood process for the priest. The pontiff said it was important to gather the testimony of witnesses who are now alive and clearly recollect the priest’s life and death.

The closest witness to Jesus is his mother, Archbishop Cordileone said. “When we pray the rosary then, we are privileged to enter into Mary’s heart and contemplate Christ with her.”

Concluding his homily at United Nations Plaza, the archbishop said: “May our praying of the holy rosary lead us to contemplate with greater depth and fervor the mysteries manifest in our Lord’s earthly life, so we may bear witness to him by our holiness of life, after the manner of our Blessed Mother Mary and all the martyrs, for the glory of God and the proclamation of the good news of salvation.”

For those who came, the opportunity to witness their love for Mary and the Catholic Church appeared paramount.

“It is our devotion to Mama Mary. She is our spiritual mother and we derive our strength from her,” said one woman, who came with two friends from Star of the Sea Parish in San Francisco.

Jose Rodriguez brought his two young sons from St. Charles Borromeo Parish in San Carlos to the Mass and rally because “I am Catholic,” he said.


Schmalz is assistant editor of Catholic San Francisco, newspaper of the Archdiocese of San Francisco.