Fr. Kelleher speaks on Miraculous Medal, Fatima, need for prayer
Story by Reagan Scott
(SNR) - In September, Bishop James Conley, at a medical conference in Denver ran into Father James Kelleher S.O.L.T., the founder and director of the Eucharistic Family Rosary Crusade.
Father Kelleher first met Bishop Conley while they were both serving in Rome in the 1990s. When Bishop Conley learned about his current apostolate, he invited Father Kelleher to the diocese for a rosary crusade.
This encounter was the start of a much more significant movement within the diocese, led by a committee of lay and religious members. The goal of the rosary crusade in the diocese is to promote daily family rosaries and increase Eucharistic adoration.
The committee’s president, Jerry Meyer of St. Peter Parish in Lincoln, credited Bishop Conley for seeing the need for such a movement in the diocese, and said he is hopeful that the project will help to make the diocese stronger.
Bishop Conley said, “The rosary is a powerful weapon. It is a weapon against the scourge of evil that is in our world and wages war on our hearts. In her apparitions at Fatima, Mary exhorted us to pray the rosary for ourselves and the good of the entire world, and she promised many graces to those who pray it.
“Praying the rosary allows us to meditate on the life of Jesus as we reflect upon the mysteries of the rosary,” he continued, “but with the assistance of the intercession of his most holy mother.”
The committee has divided the plans for the rosary crusade into three phases, the first of which is underway now.
In the last several weeks, Father Kelleher traveled to Catholic schools in the Lincoln Diocese to preach the message of the rosary to the students, and he encouraged them to take that message home to their families.
Father Kelleher is a member of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity (S.O.L.T.), a community of disciples of Jesus through Mary composed of all vocations. Its members serve on ecclesial family teams in areas of deepest apostolic need.
Often referred to as “the rosary priest,” Father Kelleher travels around the world preaching the importance of praying a daily family rosary to school children and to people around the globe, to obtain world peace.
Father Kelleher has been giving presentations since May 13, 2005, when he led adoration and a rosary for 22,000 people at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.
In Lincoln, Father Kelleher has visited St. John the Apostle, St. Patrick, St. Joseph, the Cathedral of the Risen Christ elementary schools and Pius X High School.
When Father Kelleher returns to the diocese Jan. 21, he will begin a second round of talks at other schools in Lincoln, as well as schools in Wahoo and David City.
Members of the Knights of the Holy Eucharist have helped Father Kelleher with several of his visits, carrying a statue of Our Lady of Fatima in procession to begin the events. The religious brothers will travel to give presentations at diocesan schools over an hour away from the city Lincoln, as Father Kelleher will not be able to get to them all.
At each of the schools he visits, Father Kelleher gives a 40-minute presentation. In the first 10 minutes, he talks about the Miraculous Medal — made in the design detailed by St. Catherine Labouré following her apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary — and shares a story of a modern miracle that has been attributed to devotion to the medal.
While Father Kelleher usually brings medals to the schools to distribute to the students, Bishop Conley provided all school and CCD students with medals and blue chords to wear for Father Kelleher’s presentations.
In the second part of his presentation, Father Kelleher poses a question to the students, asking them “Does God have a plan for your life?” Of the students who say yes, he asks them, “Do you think you can discover what that plan is?”
These questions allow Father Kelleher to discuss vocations with the students and give them the tools they need to discover God’s plan for them. He tells the students to pray one Hail Mary a day, either for their future spouse, or that they become a good priest or religious brother or sister in the future, if they feel that they are being called to the priesthood or religious life.
Finally, he tells students about Our Lady of Fatima by sharing her message of praying the rosary daily for world peace. Together, he and the students pray a decade of scripture rosary before he encourages their teachers to pray a decade of scripture rosary with their students every day.
A decade of a scripture rosary includes reading a passage of the Bible before praying an Our Father and 10 Hail Marys.
“I like to talk to students because they have a lot of energy and want to be close to God,” Father Kelleher said. “I can also help reinforce what their teachers are telling them in school.”
Bishop Conley agreed that fostering devotion to the rosary at a young age is an important goal.
“Because of its beauty and power,” he said, “we should learn to love to pray the rosary, and this love should be fostered at an early age in the life of a disciple of Jesus.”
The first phase of the project will also include the implementation of Rosary Sundays. One Sunday in January, February and March will focus on a different third of the diocese. On their respective Rosary Sunday, all the priests will preach on the family rosary, encouraging each family to commit to praying a daily family rosary or a daily decade of Scripture Rosary.
Each third of the parishes will be spoken to by parish representatives who will encourage parishioners to pray the rosary, or a decade of scripture rosary with their families daily.
The parish representatives will also be in charge of distributing commitment cards that families can sign to indicate their desire to participate in the daily prayer. This commitment is one that Meyer believes can bring about significant change.
“A powerful prayer like the rosary being said by a family can make families stronger,” Meyer said. “Praying the rosary daily is a neat message that seems simple, and it starts at home.”
As an ongoing part of the crusade, the committee’s vice president Wayne Ringer of St. Mary Parish in Denton has been integral in implementing a program that allows the men and women of parishes across the diocese to spend time in fellowship.
Groups of parishioners, known as “Saints on Tap” for men and “Vino et Veritas” for women, will have the opportunity to meet once a month for six months to discuss a different saint who was known to have a special devotion to the rosary. They include saints Dominic, Pope Pius V, Louis de Montfort, Maximilian Kolbe, Padre Pio and Pope John Paul II.
Each group would meet either at someone’s home or, for larger parishes, at the church. During each meeting, attendees will watch two five-minute videos about the saints, compiled by Ringer and Father Kelleher, followed by a gospel reflection, discussion and decade of the rosary.
“Our goal is for people to deepen their love of Mary and the rosary,” Ringer said. “But if nothing else, people will get to know each other better.”
On Sunday, March 18, Bishop Conley will hold a family rosary and lead Eucharistic adoration at St. Teresa Church in Lincoln to begin the culmination of the first phase. The final event will be a rosary chain around the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus April 29. Ringer estimates that it will take 3,300 people to completely surround the UNL campus.
The second phase of the project will begin in the fall. While the committee will continue to stress the importance of praying the rosary daily, the focus will shift to the importance of Eucharistic adoration, encouraging people to either take up a scheduled holy hour at their parish, or just spend more time in front of the Blessed Sacrament.
Vino Veritas and Saints on Tap will continue for another six months in the fall with a focus on the Eucharistic saints.
The final plan for this phase is a Eucharistic procession around the state capitol.
The third phase of the project, taking place in April 2019, will be a rosary and Eucharistic adoration led by the bishop at Seacrest Field in Lincoln.
“We would love to get the Omaha Archdiocese and Grand Island Diocese involved,” Meyer said. We want to make it a Nebraska event.”
Meyer said that donors have already stepped up to help support the event, and EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network) will be present to spread the message to the world.
Meyer said that it is the hope of all involved that spreading the message out over 18 months will ensure that it reaches as many people as possible and makes a significant impact on the diocese.
“Bishop Conley saw the need for this crusade,” he said, “and we can be stronger if we come together and get Mary involved. We’re going to see things change and that’s very exciting.”
Bishop Conley said, “I am grateful for the work of Father Kelleher and all of those involved in the Eucharistic Family Rosary Crusade in promoting a love of the rosary and Eucharistic Adoration in the Diocese of Lincoln.”
[Editor's note: find more information about the Eucharistic Family Rosary Crusade at rosarylincoln.org.]