The sun was shining high in the sky and drying the wetness off the grass on Saturday, May 7. Purple henbits and yellow dandelions popped up bright in the green grass. Near the grotto at the Catholic Cemetery in Fort Wayne, bushes are arranged in the shape of a rosary. Four bushes form the shape of a cross, while small red bushes mark the Hail Marys, with large green bushes for the Our Father and Glory Be. Individuals and families began spreading blankets and setting up chairs as area school children who were invited to lead prayers gathered around the rosary bushes. Known as “O Beautiful Mother,” the event was intended to honor Mary, the greatest of mothers, as well as to pray for anyone who fills the role of a mother or mother-figure.
Jessica Schuster and Father Daniel Whelan organized a choir of young adults and 20 school children – members of local Catholic schools that Schuster reached out to – to lead the rosary. Schuster, who founded and directs a young adult choir dedicated to evangelization through the beauty of sacred choral music, explained how the event came about. “A good friend of mine visited the cemetery, saw the grotto, and suggested that it would be the perfect place for my young adult choir to sing! May 7 happened to be open on our choir schedule and Father Daniel’s schedule, and knowing that it was a First Saturday in May (Our Lady’s month), and the day before Mother’s Day, all of the other details and components of the event really fell into place!”
In her apparition at Fatima, the Blessed Mother asked that her children would console her heart by spending five consecutive first Saturdays of the month in prayer, specifically meditating on the rosary, and partaking in confession and holy Communion.
Many find Mary’s words particularly critical at this time in history. Schuster continued, “In these times of much fear, uncertainty, and promotion of sin in our culture, it is more important than ever to gather together to call upon our Blessed Mother, to honor her, to make reparation for sins against her Heart and the Heart of her Son, and to celebrate the authentic beauty of motherhood. Having the event in the cemetery allowed us to remember all of the faithful departed in a particular way, especially all mothers who are buried there. I’ve always been struck by the headstones that are engraved with the words, ‘Pray for me.’ We must not forget to pray for the souls of our brothers and sisters in Christ!”
Father Whelan opened with prayer honoring Mother Mary and led those present in reciting the rosary, focusing on the Glorious Mysteries. Pete Duran, a Fourth-Degree member of the Knights of Columbus, escorted Father Whelan as he processed around the landscaped rosary.
Marian hymns were sung throughout the event by the choir, led by Schuster. The beautiful singing carried on the wind; one could almost hear the angels of heaven joining in, or perhaps it was the voices of the little children picking flowers and laughing as they rolled down the hill. Before beginning each decade, Father Whelan gave specific intentions for women in varying capacities of motherhood, such as godmothers, spiritual mothers, etc. Those in attendance prayed for mothers living and deceased; for mothers with children here on earth and those with saints in heaven already.
After the rosary was complete, Father Whelan read a Gospel passage. His homily had a message of femininity, speaking about the strength women are given and the role model they should look to in Mary. The service culminated with Isaac Silveus from Our Lady of Good Hope Parish crowning Mary with a colorful wreath of flowers fit for the Queen of Angels.
A stream of participants were invited up to place fresh flowers at the feet of Mary. The participants then recited the Litany of Loreto and sang the hymn “Hail Holy Queen Enthroned Above,” concluding the service harmoniously in the bright sunshine and beauty of the pleasant spring day.
– She is clothed in strength and dignity, and she will laugh at the days to come. Proverbs 31:25
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