30 April 2020, The Tablet

Give the Rosary a go for May, says bishop

Give the Rosary a go for May, says bishop

Bishop of Limerick Brendan Leahy
NurPhoto/NurPhoto/PA Images

“Give the Rosary a go” is Bishop of Limerick Brendan Leahy’s invitation for May, the traditional month of Marian devotion.

In his message ahead of a live-streaming of the Rosary from the Redemptorist Mt St Alphonsus Church in Limerick tomorrow, 1 May at 8pm, Bishop Leahy urged people to accept Pope Francis’ invitation to rediscover the Rosary over the coming month. 

“I want to invite everyone, either as a family or individually, to take up the Rosary and to give it a go,” the Bishop of Limerick said.

Referring to the pandemic and the consequent lockdown, he noted that “For all the trials and tribulations of the Coronavirus, it has led to a huge reappreciation of family, not least with parents stepping off the spinning wheel that has generated huge work-life imbalance.”

“I’m hearing so much about parents getting to do things with their children that they haven’t had the opportunity to before and children are really benefitting from this. Parents are benefiting from this.”

He said he was also hearing of adult children developing a deeper connection with their parents “as this mutual need brings us back to some wonderful basics and closer to each other”.

A definite positive of people staying at home is that families are praying more and they have the resource of the internet to help them, he said.

Highlighting how Mary is the mother of family and May is the traditional month of devotion to her, Bishop Leahy said people had an opportunity to turn to her to pray for peace in their families at this difficult time.

Recalling the famous ‘Rosary Priest’ Fr Patrick Peyton, whom Pope Francis declared Venerable in 2017, Bishop Leahy quoted Fr Peyton’s most famous maxims: “The family that prays together stays together” and “A world at prayer is a world at peace.”

“Perhaps in more cynical times, we smiled a little at these but today people are more open to rediscovering the many different forms of prayer that the Church proposes.”

He said that those who are re-engaging are enabled to do so by the internet.  “At its most difficult, people are connecting across the internet to pray with loved ones who are dying or offer a prayer moment around a deceased family member.”

In more positive moments, they are also turning to websites for mass and for prayers.

“Our own online platforms are getting a level of engagement that even we are surprised with and in numbers beyond what would normally be attending Church,” he explained.

The website of St John’s Cathedral in Limerick has seen online visitors for streamed midday Masses increase seven-fold between January to April. Some 3,267 people watched Mass live from the Cathedral in April, and thousands more engaged with other streamed Masses across the diocese of Limerick.

According to Bishop Leahy, the Diocese of Limerick’s website had double the traffic in April  compared to January, while its social media following has almost doubled what it was three months ago. 

“At a time when we can’t to churches, the home has become our place of prayer thanks to technology. We can make it so with the Rosary this month so I would encourage people to try it, rediscover the beauty of praying the Rosary together at home,” Bishop Leahy suggested. He added that it might be enough just to start with one decade of the Rosary.

Separately, new figures show that Irish Redemptorists’ online traffic is booming during the Covid-19 shutdown.

Statistics for the past four weeks indicate a jump in the number of people going online every day to access liturgies and other resources offered by the order.

During the first three weeks of April, more than a quarter of a million people worldwide spent 160,000 hours following live streams from the Redemptorist churches in Belfast, Limerick and Dundalk.

Posts on Redemptorist Facebook pages reached more than half a million people, generating almost 200,000 engagements, in the month from 24 March 2020.

“Though we cannot wait for our churches to open again, it is clear that our online presence has provided support and spiritual nourishment to a lot of people,” Limerick-based Redemptorist, Fr Gerard Moloney said. “The challenge will be how to continue to engage with and build up this virtual community once this crisis is over.”

From an average of less than 1,000 hits a day before the lockdown, Mount St Alphonsus’s livestream in Limerick has surged to more than 7,000 hits daily. On Divine Mercy Sunday (19 April 2020), more than 12,000 visitors tuned into the liturgies from Mount St Alphonsus – a record number.

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