By Tony DeGol
A lot has changed in the past century, but the enduring power of the Rosary remains the same.
So says the Catholic Daughters of the Americas Court of Our Lady #647 in Johnstown.
The group of faith-filled women is getting ready to joyfully celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Court, and the similarities between then and now are worth noting.
“A hundred years ago, around 1920, there was a different pandemic,” reminded Marsha Critchfield, Court Secretary. “We are sure we are echoing the same Rosary that those ladies prayed a hundred years ago at that time for our nation and our human race, and here we are celebrating that same Rosary, praying to our Blessed Mother to help us recover from this pandemic a hundred years later.”
Members of the Court of Our Lady #647 were among the many faithful who turned out for a beautiful salute to Mary and the Rosary.
The annual Marian Celebration was held on October 4 at Saint Benedict Parish in Johnstown with Bishop Mark presiding.
As always, the gathering began with the recitation of the Rosary, led by Father David Peles, Pastor of Saint Benedict; Father Antony Sudherson, HGN, Parochial Vicar at Saint Benedict; Deacon Michael Pleva and Deacon Michael Russo, in diaconal service at Saint Benedict; Sister Cindy Burns, CCW; and the Very Reverend Anthony Francis Spilka, OFM Conv., Pastor of Saint Francis of Assisi Parish in Johnstown and Bishop’s Vicar for Religious.
Various other priests and deacons from throughout the diocese participated, along with representatives from the Knights of Columbus.
Following the Rosary, Bishop Mark celebrated Mass and delivered an encouraging homily highlighting the theme of the 2020 Marian Celebration: Our Mother of Good Counsel in a Time of Pandemic.
“We all have so many questions, so many concerns, so many anxieties, so many sufferings that people bear in this time of pandemic, and a lot of people don’t know where to take that,” Bishop Mark said. “They don’t know if anyone is listening or if anyone above all, will take them seriously.”
The understanding of Good Counsel as it applies to Mary is found in the story of the Wedding Feast at Cana, according to the Bishop.
“Mary acted as Mother of Good Counsel when she said to those in charge of the wine, ‘do whatever He (Jesus) tells you,’” Bishop Mark explained. “It was a simple, intuitive response, which led to more than a simple action on the part of Jesus. It was the trigger for His very first public miracle.”
The Bishop continued by posing the question: As Mother of Good Counsel, what is good about the advice or counsel Mary gives to us?
“Mary is the Mother of Good Counsel because her practical advice and direction is above all to trust in the Will of God as revealed to us in her Son, Jesus,” he stated.
Mary’s unshakable trust was first manifested when the angel Gabriel announced that she would be the Mother of the Savior, Bishop Mark offered. That story of the Annunciation, as well as the Wedding Feast at Cana, show us how Mary is a reliable person to seek when we need good counsel.
“Throughout her life on earth, the Virgin Mary was always calm and peaceful, even when hard decisions had to be made and even as she stood by her Son at the foot of the Cross in His darkest hour,” he remarked. “It is the Lord Jesus, himself, who told us from the Cross that we should behold our Mother because she is the Mother of Good Counsel who is there for us when we need her intercession.”
The Catholic Daughters of the Americas Court of Our Lady #647 wholeheartedly concurs with Bishop Mark’s message, and as the members prepare to celebrate the century mark, they will continue to turn to Mary and continue to pray the Rosary.
“The Rosary is very powerful,” insisted Patricia Brylski, Court Regent. “Our Mother hears us every day, and so does our Lord. We just really, really need to pray.”
Editor’s Note: For more on the Marian Celebration, watch Proclaim! TV on October 11 at 10:30 a.m. on WATM ABC 23.
[Photos: (Top) Officers of the Catholic Daughters of the Americas Court of Our Lady #647 in Johnstown (left to right): Patricia Brylski, Regent; Barb Oliveros, Treasurer; Marsha Critchfield, Secretary; and Marie Edmiston, Vice Regent. (First Inset) The Marian statue stands in front of the altar at Saint Benedict Parish in Johnstown during the Marian Celebration. (Second Inset) A couple prays the Rosary at the beginning of the Marian Celebration.]