What started as a short-term Zoom and phone gathering of Chicago Region knights and dames to pray the Rosary when the pandemic began has since become a treasured nightly ritual for confreres and friends of the Order.
Since spring 2020, the nightly Rosary has brought together anywhere from a handful of participants to more than 50 praying in community. Regardless of the number of participants, the 8 p.m. (CT) Rosary happens Monday through Friday evenings and unites confreres and friends of the Order from Chicago to Ohio to Virginia to Florida to Puerto Rico, and beyond.
"We started at the suggestion of one of our chaplains, Father Richard Fragomeni of the Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii in Chicago," said Rick Klein, Chicago hospitaller. "Father Fragomeni was very helpful in the initial organization of the structure that we adopted for the Rosary and the pattern of involvement for our members."
Father Fragomeni felt it important that a nightly Rosary follow the model set out in St. John Paul II's apostolic letter, “Rosarium Virginis Mariae.” "If we are going to pray the Rosary together, then let's do it the way that John Paul II asked us to do it," said Father Fragomeni. After he found a variety of scriptural Rosaries and shared them, the nightly Rosary "took off," he said.
The Rev. David Turner, Deacon Ed Gronkiewicz, KM (now deceased), and Father Fragomeni served as Rosary leaders each evening for the first several months. There have also been “guest appearances” by Msgr. Michael Boland, the Rev. Jay Woods, and Bishop Bob Lombardo. Occasionally, guest speakers address participants for 30 minutes prior to the Rosary. To date, speakers have included Fra' James Michael von Stroebel, who provided an abbreviated history of the Order; Tom Wessels from Malteser International; and Doug Sandvig from Prison Ministry. Fra' Tom Mulligan is also among the nightly Rosary leaders, along with Father Fragomeni and several members of the Order who rotate spots.
"Praying the Rosary with friends has added a new dimension to my faith life that never really existed," said John Lemker, KM, of the Chicago Region. "It helps keep me connected to our faith when everything else seems to be focusing our attention away from it. Those whom I have never met, and then meet, feel like friends."
For Suzanne Nelson, DM, Chicago Region, leading the nightly Rosary "teaches the importance of community prayer, specifically of the Rosary, a much-needed tool for battle with the current times."
The nightly Rosary has also brought members closer to the Order. "Participating in the Rosary with the Order has helped me communicate with members and developed the essence of the Order being my spiritual home," said Richard Mena, KM, Columbus Region. Richard's son, who lives in Innsbruck, Austria, has been influenced by his father's participation in the nightly Rosary and is now involved with a local Rosary group in Innsbruck.
A portion of Rosary participants gathers to pray Compline immediately prior to the evening Rosary. Early in the pandemic, a Saturday afternoon cohort of confreres met in the Zoom room for a virtual night out with friends.
New participants--confreres and friends of the Order--are always welcome to join the Rosary, Monday through Friday evenings, at 8 p.m. Central Time. Participants may either join via Zoom or call in without a video presence.
The zoom information is accessible by viewing the 'opportunities to pray schedule' located on the Members Only section of the Federal Association website. If you have trouble logging in to your Member Profile, please contact the Executive Office for assistance.