Fr. Isaac Mary Relyea leads the Rosary on the Capitol steps in Madison for the first weekly Rosary Rally June 21, while behind him students hold a balloon Rosary that was released at the end of the 15-decade prayer. (Catholic Herald photo/Kat Wagner)
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MADISON -- As the Rosary of bright yellow “Life” balloons was lifted above the Capitol building June 21, it paused a moment, suspended and twisting in the wind above the southwest wing, before rising further into the heavens.
Not long before, the more than 250 people gathered on the steps of the Capitol building had offered up their Rosary in much the same way.
The Capitol Rosary Rallies, held every Thursday through November 1, are intended as a call to pray for life, family, and the conversion of the world.
Led by Fr. Rick Heilman, pastor of St. Ignatius Parish in Mt. Horeb and St. Mary Parish in Pine Bluff, and Franciscan Friar of Our Lady of Good Success Father Isaac Mary Relyea, attendees pray 15 decades of the Rosary: Joyful, Sorrowful, and Glorious Mysteries.
The rally was one of the first events in the Fortnight for Freedom, and many of the participants carried U.S. flags. But its purpose is not partisan or political, Bishop Robert C. Morlino said in a brief address at the beginning of the rally June 21.
“Fr. Paul Arinze told me just today about the situation in his native Nigeria where his mother went to Mass recently, and in many of the parishes in Nigeria, they are praying that the freedom of conscience will flourish in the United States,” the bishop said. “That is a mighty cry to the Lord rising up from brothers and sisters so far away and yet so near because we are all one in Christ.
“And that’s what we’re here to do tonight,” he said. “To join them in prayer, in a worldwide outcry to the Lord, begging him to protect our first freedom, our most necessary freedom.
“Our most important freedom is the freedom to do what we know we need to do to be saved,” the bishop said. “To do that in church, to do that in the home, to do that in the workplace, to do that everywhere. Our job is to stand side by side and protect everyone’s freedom of conscience so that they can seek the Lord and seek his or her salvation. We’re here to pray for that.”
The second Capitol Rosary Rally was held on June 28. An attendee said that the crowd was perhaps a third smaller than the first, but possibly because of the heat that topped 90 degrees even into the evening.
The rallies will continue rain or shine through November 1.