Hope, connection and concern for others are at the heart of the virtual ‘Rosary to Recovery’ at Mary, Queen of the Family Parish, Blacktown, which has attracted over 60 mostly young people to take part.
Since the beginning of lockdown, the youth-led initiative is encouraging young people to stay connected to their faith and come together in prayer for an end to the pandemic.
The virtual Rosary, youth Bible Study sessions and games nights hosted by the parish’s youth ministry have provided a sense of hope to the dozens of young people taking part. In addition, they provide connection and networking with others around the Diocese of Parramatta who are also experiencing lockdown.
Recent media reports have revealed the significant impact of the lockdown on young people, with the National Suicide Prevention Adviser and chief executive of the National Mental Health Commission commenting last week about a rise in young people expressing a sense of loss of hope in the future.
Blake Bano, youth minister at the parish, explained why Mary is an important person to look to at this time and the sense of hope she can bring.
“Our Blessed Mother is a great person to look up to, and a lot of people draw relationship and inspiration from her way of life,” he said.
“In the sadness of the pandemic, Our Blessed Mother can be a light of hope, as through her, we can connect to Christ.”
The parish’s youth ministry team host the virtual Rosary to Recovery every Friday night at 7pm on Zoom, inviting people to pray the rosary at the Loreto Novena and ask for our Blessed Mother’s intercession. The rosary is led by the priests of the parish, with the youth team leading the decades.
The online rosary has been running since the beginning of July this year. What started as a small group of 30 participants has grown to double the size. Around two-thirds of the participants are youth and young adults.
Blake explained that as the lockdown was announced, he and his youth ministry team looked for ways to keep the young people in the parish engaged in their faith.
Taking inspiration from their experiences at World Youth Day in Panama in 2019, the youth ministry team decided on praying the rosary, with the intention to pray for the end of the pandemic.
Parish Priest Fr Reginaldo (Regie) Lavilla MSP praised the work of the youth in his parish on the Rosary to Recovery, explaining that they have inspired the parish community to be more prayerful and devoted to our Blessed Mother.
“Our youth set an example of a faith community that doesn’t only reach out to others in works of charity, but also expresses their love in praying for them,” he told Catholic Outlook.
Alongside the Rosary to Recovery, the youth team at Blacktown are engaging with their young people through fortnightly Bible Study sessions as well as games nights.
Both Blake and Fr Regie stressed the importance of maintaining our prayer lives during this time. They explained through praying the rosary, we honour the significant role that Our Lady plays in the Church.
“The role of the Blessed Mother is very important in the history of salvation of humanity as she is the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ,” Fr Regie said. “Therefore, her intercessions while we pray the rosary will certainly help us in facing our trials and challenges.”
Blake added, “Prayer should be at the heart of our lives, because it was given to us by Christ,” he said.
“In our disrupted lives, we should try and maintain our faith-based obligations in whatever way we can, as this gives us a sense of purpose.”
Mary, Queen of the Family Parish’s Rosary to Recovery sessions are held every Friday night at 7pm via Zoom and are open for young and old across the Diocese of Parramatta and Greater Sydney. For details on how to participate and to find the link to the session, visit the MQOF Facebook page or contact the parish directly on (02) 9622 1125 or email@example.com.