SYDNEY (ChurchMilitant.com) - Just hours after U.S. Catholics unite in Sacramento Saturday to consecrate California to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, 7,500 miles across the Pacific, Australian Catholics will come together to ring their continent with the Rosary.
On Sunday, May 13 — Mother's Day and the 101st anniversary of the Fatima apparitions — Oz Rosary #53 will unite Catholics in Australia and beyond to intercede for the protection of the nation and its children. "We are praying for the future of our country," organizers say, "committing our nation to God and to the Immaculate Heart of Mary."
On Friday, Church Militant spoke with organizer Jane Chifley about the initiative. She explained that like recent national Rosary events in Ireland, Italy, France and Britain, Oz Rosary #53 was inspired by Poland's October 2017 Rosary on the Borders, which drew more than 1 million Catholics to the country's borders to beg Our Lady's intercession for their country and for the world.
"Watching the events unfold in Poland," Chifley said, "it became clear that Rosary on the Borders was a move of the Holy Spirit."
Recalling Australia's Christian roots — the country is known as "the Great Southland of the Holy Spirit" — Chifley said a national Rosary campaign for Australia "made sense."
Banding together with other Catholic laity, Chifley launched Oz Rosary #53 ("Oz" being a slang term for "Australian" and "#53" reflecting the original goal of securing 53 sites of prayer — one for every Hail Mary in the Rosary) to fight for the soul of the nation.
Organizers have been amazed by the response: at last count 220 sites had registered, quadruple the original goal. And the number is rising, with more venues registering as word of the initiative spreads.
Sydney alone boasts more than 50 Rosary sites — one of them the city's famous Harbour Bridge.
Other major coastal cities — Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide — have registered numerous venues, including many prominent churches. In the nation's capital, Canberra, a parish priest is leading a contingent to the top of Black Mountain in the heart of the city.
Elsewhere across Australia, groups are trekking to mountains, beaches, parks, cliffs, farms — and Marian shrines — to pray.
"It's a unifying event," Chifley said. "So many people I have spoken to are just so excited to have something positive to be involved in — praying for the good of Australia."
The initiative has been aided by the nation's strong collaborative spirit. "It's a bit of an Australian characteristic that everyone gets in and does things," Chifley explained. "There are key people who came from nowhere in each state. It's been a real team effort."
"The Polish community has been a great help," she added, "with Polish radio broadcasting news of the event here."
Though launched by Catholic laity, Australian priests and religious have responded enthusiastically.
Chifley reported that "many parish priests have come on board" and are "enthusiastically promoting the event," with many leading their parishes in the national Rosary before or after Sunday Mass.
Bishop Emeritus David Cremin of Sydney has officially endorsed the campaign, while other bishops "have promoted the event through their diocesan offices or through their websites," she said.
Most dioceses, in fact, have helped spread the word in one form or another, and five diocesan cathedrals, including St. Mary's in Perth and St. Patrick's in Parramatta, will be hosting Rosary gatherings on Sunday.