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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (ChurchMilitant.com) - In this month of Mary, California Catholics are preparing to honor Our Lady in the streets of Sacramento.
On Saturday, May 12, thousands of faithful will gather for the Great Marian Procession, a march culminating with the consecration of California to the Blessed Mother.
Speaking with Church Militant Friday, organizer Michael Solton described the procession as an act of spiritual intercession. "California needs help — badly," he said. "We will be praying specifically for the people of this state to turn back to God."
Now in its tenth year, the march has grown into the largest annual Marian procession west of the Mississippi River.
"Attendance has been growing each year," Solton explained, "from a few hundred in the beginning to about 1,500 people" in 2017.
Many participants describe the spiritual benefits from participating. "People have reported to me over the years that their faith has been reawakened, and they're back to church again," Solton recounted.
"This isn't just a 'nice' thing to do," Solton added. "This is really getting into the trenches. This is capturing minds, hearts and souls. And prayer works! Multiple reports of conversion, reversion — that's encouraging."
The annual three-and-a-half-mile procession usually culminates with a Solemn Mass. This year, it will culminate with the consecration of the State of California to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, on the west steps of the State Capitol; with Fr. John Lyons of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter leading the crowds in a special entrustment of the state of California to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Solton explained marchers will be praying for the state's conversion, especially for a "return to pro-life values" and a recognition of marriage "as between one man and one woman."
"We're going to be very clear and very specific," he said. "It needs to be done and said publicly."
The Great Marian Procession points to a stirring among the state's committed Catholics — a growing army of laymen and women who are interceding for the soul of California.
In December 2017, a lay-led movement called "Consecrate California to Mary" brought thousands of Catholics into churches and onto beaches for prayer and reparation for the state's sins. An expanded event is planned for December 2018.
The campaign's creator, Angelo Libutti, is applauding the efforts of Solton and his team. "I'm 200 percent on board," he told Church Militant Friday.
Though the Marian procession is centered on Sacramento, participation isn't limited to the city's residents.
"It's not intended to be a local event by any means," Solton said. "We invite people to come from anywhere. We've had people come from as far as San Diego and the Oregon border. I expect this year we'll have the same. It's for any of the faithful who have the interest and time to be there for public prayer and public procession."
For those who can't make it to Sacramento on May 12, Solton asks them to join the procession in prayer from afar:
We desire participation throughout California, across America and even beyond the country — everywhere. We invite people to join us May 12 to entrust the state of California to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and to pray for the hearts and minds of legislators and that all the people will be turned to God and are able to come to know Christ as the Way, the Truth and the Life. We'd like anyone to join us, anywhere and even to take a moment to pray a couple of prayers at that time on that particular day for this particular need.
"Oftentimes, what begins in California tends to move out to the country and to the rest of the world," Solton observed. "Sadly, California has hatched many wicked laws, programs, etc. that have spread across America and out to the world."
The remedy, he underscored, is prayer: "We pray. We pray desperately for change. We pray for truth to reign and for the diabolical influence to end. We ask everybody to pray with us."
More information on the Great Marian Procession is available at bringmary.com.