My central London parish, Farm Street, has for 20 plus years now offered a day trip on the last Saturday each May to our national shrine to Mary in Walsingham, England.
Whatever the weather, the day is always special and ever popular. At a recent parish council meeting discussing having to cancel the trip for the second year in a row, a novena to honour Mary was suggested.
Instead of a participate at Mass novena, we decided to get participants from around the world and try to get every hour someone somewhere, saying a rosary – to create an unbroken chain of rosaries for the nine days.
Little did I know it would mean a few sleepless nights for me wondering if it would come off at all let alone with the unbroken chain I was looking for. So far 157 people have signed up but we need more. You can sign up here or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our newest and youngest council member promised to help and together we made plans to email our plea for participants. Originally asking for an entire novena, it became pretty clear that was too huge an ask, so it’s now one rosary during one hour on one day.
Thanks to the wonders of emails getting paid forward, Farm Street’s live stream, website and Twitter, a number of previously unknown members and supporters of our community are joining in.
I’ve had an email from Melbourne Australia telling me she was introduced to Farm Street by her mother whose great friend was a parishioner and a Jewish convert to Catholicism. I have “met” a Sister in Singapore who is hosting a group hour of music and prayer. She came to us via her friend in Kenya who is at the Jesuit university there with an ex-Farm Street assistant parish priest I’ve roped into joining, though he left us ages ago.
A sixth form in Staffordshire will be saying their rosary in between Angola and Wales. We have participants in Switzerland, Bulgaria, Romania, USA, Canada, Oman, Pakistan, Ireland and Bermuda where I spent my formative years.
I heard from the principal of my school there who I have never heard from and who left Bermuda a few months ago to retire with one other Sister of Charity, ending the 130 years of a continuous presence on the tiny island. Shortly after I heard from her which was via a childhood friend someone in Halifax Canada asked to join commenting that one silver lining of Covid wasfinding other online Masses to attend.
She told me how beautiful and intimate she thought Farm Street looked. And how much she enjoys listening to our Jesuit sermons. I couldn’t help passing on the story of a pillow I have painted by a Sister of Charity for my mother when we left the island. She had helped Titanic victims as a young novitiate in Halifax, the 175-year home for the congregation.
The chain of connections is warming my heart during a very cold and rainy English May.
There are 20 countries so far and other stories to tell. I had comments that it’s a practice people want to get back to…. which of course I love. But I need to get back to finding more wonderful people to join in. So, can you please consider saying just one rosary during one particular hour of your choice.
Leslie Giltz is a tri-national Canadian, American and Britishhealth recruiter, who has a masters in public policy and administration, whohas lived in the UK for 25 years and who is organising the novena for Farm Street.
This article was originally published in The Tablet. You can read it here.
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