Anne-Marie Welsh

A rosary made of balloons added a unique touch to the 25th Annual
Rosary March in downtown Erie Oct. 13.        Photo/Anne-Marie Welsh

ERIE — Downtown Erie, Pennsylvania, usually is quiet on Sunday afternoons in the fall, except for one Sunday, each October. For the 25th year in a row, the Erie Chapter of the World Apostolate of Fatima held its annual rosary march, this year on October 13, filling the air with prayer and witnessing to the joy and hope participants find in the rosary. 

Organizer John Walsh strode through the crowd with his bullhorn, helping people find their school banners or making sure those carrying the statue of the Madonna knew where to assemble. The day was picture-perfect except for a bit of wind—a gift noted with gratitude by most of the approximately 350 people preparing to process, given the kind of weather an Erie October can bring.

Standing out among those who had gathered to pray this year was the family of the late John Campbell, who passed away in May.

The family of the late John Campbell honored
him with t-shirts showcasing one of his favorite
sayings.                   Photo/Anne-Marie Welsh

Two of his 13 children — Bernadette Carroll and Barbara Terrizza — had collaborated to create bright blue t-shirts in their father’s honor. Across the back was a favorite saying of his: “Keep the faith, it’s the only thing you can take with you.” About 40 family members sported the shirts.

Although they’ve had a faithful presence over the years, the Knights of Columbus also stood out at this year’s march, wearing their new uniforms. Gone are the capes and feathers, replaced by a contemporary and streamlined look including berets.

The event was opened with prayers offered by both Erie Bishop Lawrence Persico and Father Jerry Priscaro, pastor of Our Mother of Sorrows Parish and spiritual director for the Erie Chapter of the World Apostolate of Fatima. The group then departed from St. Peter Cathedral and wended its way around several blocks, including across Gannon University’s campus.

Once the procession ended, participants joined those who had been praying in the cathedral,

St. Peter Cathedral in Erie was filled for 
Benediction, Scripture, a homily and music
after the procession. Photo/Anne-Marie Welsh

filling it for a service including exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, Scripture, a homily, meditation, Benediction and the Divine Praises.

Homilist for the event was Msgr. Edward Lohse, vicar general for the Diocese of Erie.

He pointed to three key individuals whom he said played a key role in the day. In addition to the

Msgr. Edward Lohse, vicar general for the
Diocese of Erie, served as homilist.
Photo/Anne-Marie Welsh

Blessed Mother and Jesus, he talked about St. John Henry Newman, who had been canonized by Pope Francis hours earlier in Rome.

“He is a sign for English-speaking Catholics,” Msgr. Lohse said. “His many and profound writings are accessible in our own language.”

Referring to the afternoon’s Scripture reading about the visitation of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth, Msgr. Lohse said that clearly the Lord and Mary were present in the story. He then walked the assembly into an understanding that all of those present in the cathedral were spiritually united to St. Elizabeth – and to St. John Henry Newman – through the communion of saints. 

“Mary carries Christ into our homes and our hearts,” he said. “And Elizabeth’s words become ours as well. Her words are the prayer of the whole communion of saints, greeting the Virgin Mary and her son as they come into our homes.”