The Rosary, a ‘sword’ for spiritual battle Print E-mail
Around the Diocese
Written by Kevin Wondrash, Catholic Herald Staff   
Thursday, Sep. 14, 2017 -- 12:00 AM
fr. donald calloway
Fr. Donald Calloway, speaks about the history and importance the Rosary at St. Mary Church in Pine Bluff on September 8 — the Nativity of Mary. To view or purchase photos, go to (Catholic Herald photo/Kevin Wondrash)

PINE BLUFF -- There’s no greater gift to give to a mother than to listen to her and to do as we are told -- such as praying the Rosary.

A full church at St. Mary in Pine Bluff, along with an overflow crowd in the narthex and school gym, tried to give the Blessed Mother that gift as a way to wish her a Happy Birthday.

On September 8, Fr. Donald Calloway, a priest with the Marians of the Immaculate Conception, gave a talk called “The Rosary: The Spiritual Sword of Our Lady.”

Father Calloway, known for his conversion story outlined in his book No Turning Back: A Witness to Mercy, based his talk on his recent book, Champions of the Rosary, which came out last year.

Event for everyone

The evening was a combined Knights and Ladies of Divine Mercy event, which are typically held at the church on the first Friday of the month for the men and the third Friday of the month for the women.

Some people came from all over the Midwest, including Iowa and the Dakotas, to hear the talk and learn more about the Rosary.

The evening began with a Holy Hour with Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, chanted Evening Prayer -- led by the Knights of Divine Mercy Schola -- and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.

Confessions were also heard by priests of the Diocese of Madison.

As the Holy Hour concluded, Fr. Rick Heilman, pastor of St. Mary and founder of the Knights of Divine Mercy, welcomed everyone to the talk, calling Father Calloway a “brother” who understands “the same challenge” in our present day and why we need the Rosary as a powerful spiritual weapon.

During his introduction, a camera crew finished their final setup for the production taking place -- a video of the talk, which will be available for purchase from the Marians shop, as soon as post-production and distribution plans are completed.

‘Historic tour’ of the Rosary

Father Calloway began his talk by holding up a Rosary and saying, “it doesn’t look like much . . . but what you can’t see and I can’t see either, but God can and Our Lady can and the saints can and the angels can -- both the holy ones and the fallen ones -- what they see me holding in my hands is a sword. The most powerful, fearsome-looking sword you can possibly imagine.”

Father Calloway took those in attendance on an “historic tour” through the history of the Rosary so everyone could know “where it comes from, what makes it so powerful, the miracles, the battles it has won, and the champions who have promoted it.”

He started in the year 1170 with the mother of St. Dominic who had a vision of a dog with a torch in its mouth. In Latin, Dominic or “Domini canes” means “dogs of God.”

St. Dominic later founded the Order of Preachers (OP), or the Dominicans, and was given the Rosary by Mary to “set the world on fire” in 1208.

The Rosary was a “heavenly aid” in his battle against heresies at the time.

He also talked about the battles the Rosary is credited with having a role in winning, such as the Battle of Muret in 1213, the Battle of Montenegro in 1539, the Great Siege of Malta in 1565, and the Battle of Lepanto in 1571, won by the Holy League with fervent prayer of the Rosary.

In the 14th century, Father Calloway said, “the Rosary is almost forgotten” due to the Black Plague, which killed one third of the population of Europe.

Father Calloway also touched on Blessed Alan de la Roche’s “renewal of the Rosary” in the 15th century.

As many “champions of the Rosary” travelled the corners of the world, praying of the Rosary spread, as well as evangelizing with, as Father Calloway called it, “The Bible on a set of beads.”

Call to pray the Rosary

Other champions of the Rosary Father Calloway mentioned were St. Louis de Montfort, whose writings on Mary from the 1700s were not discovered until the 1900s and finally published, and Pope Leo XIII, who wrote numerous papal documents on the Blessed Mother.

Marian apparitions such as at Lourdes and Fatima called for praying the Rosary.

Modern champions of the Rosary included Servant of God, Patrick Peyton, also known as the “Rosary Priest” and St. John Paul II, who was largely influential in the spread of Marian devotion, including the Rosary and helped to spread the Luminous Mysteries.

“We need Rosary champions today,” said Father Calloway. “Our Lady is crying out for people to pray her Rosary.”

He cited problems in the world such as abortion -- “the holocaust of our times” -- homosexual marriage -- “an offense against God himself” -- and contraception -- “the root of many of our problems today” as just some of the reasons to pray the Rosary.

Celebrating Mary’s birthday

Following Father Calloway’s talk, a reception was held in the gym, complete with a birthday cake for Mary.

Everyone attending even sang “Happy Birthday” to her as everyone enjoyed the cake.

Father Calloway also stayed for a couple hours at the reception to talk with people, have pictures taken, and sign some of his books.

One area artist, Tierra Jackson, from Baraboo, presented Father Calloway with an illustration of Mary that she painted herself.

Jackson felt called to give the painting to Father Calloway and said, “It’s just such a blessing” to present it to him.

For more on Father Calloway’s Order, the Marians of the Immaculate Conception, and its mission, go to

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