Local KoC to take over Rosary Rally; 2016 rally to be May 15
For the past 10 years, a group of Elder High School Alumni have sponsored a Family Rosary Rally each May. This year, that group will begin to pass the torch.
The Archbishop Purcell Council of the Knights of Columbus will assist and shadow the event’s founders during this year’s event, with the goal of taking over for 2017.
The Cincinnati Family Rosary Rally is following a path to a similar event held in Dayton each October. Both were founded by a connected group of 1940s Elder High School alum, and the Dayton event was taken over by a local Knights of Columbus council around 2011.
This year’s Dayton Family Rosary Rally will be Oct. 16 at University of Dayton Area, while the Cincinnati event is May 15 at Elder’s stadium, The Pit.
The Cincinnati Family Rosary Rally draws 1,500 to 2,000 people each year to publicly pray the rosary. The idea came around with Elder alum Joe Beyerle attended a rosary rally while traveling. He brought that back to the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, and with his classmates founded both rallies.
Butch Rowekamp, one of the Elder graduates that run the event, said the rally has multiple aims. With the public prayer they hope to support vocations, faith, sanctity of life, and family prayer.
“Our theme was to get the family together to pray the rosary together,” Rowekamp said. “We thought it’d be a good idea for the family — mom and dad and the kids — to pray the rosary.”
The theme worked. Each year since 2006 the Family Rosary Rally has brought a large turnout of families to the Pit to Elder’s campus to pray for Mary’s intercession.
After the 10th rally, held last May, the organizers met to discuss the future. Rowekamp said several of the group have had age-related health problems in recent years.
“I haven’t had many health problems, just a little heart bypass a few years ago,” he said. “After the 10th year we had a little meeting,” and it was decided to look for another group to keep the rally going.
Steve Klaserner, a former grand knight of the Purcell Council, was among the first to suggest his council take over.
“It was brought up in a general council meeting that the Rosary Rally was interested in turning it over to another group,” Klaserner said. “It may have been discussed at our Cincinnati chapter meeting, and I immediately spoke up at our council meeting and said, ‘I’d like to see Archbishop Purcell Council be the sponsoring council for this rosary rally.’
Klaserner said the mission of the rosary rally goes hand in hand with the work of the Knights of Columbus. Each meeting of the Purcell Council, whether it be a social or council meeting, begins with the rosary.
“How often is it you can get a group of men together on a Wednesday night and the first thing they do is all pray the rosary together?” Klaserner asked. “The guys that come, come regularly. We have a good turnout and participation.”
Current Grand Knight of the Archbishop Purcell Council Steve Brunett had attended previous rosary rallies and said it feels like the Blessed Mother has intervened on the event’s behalf. One year, a double rainbow appeared on the field, he said. A couple years back, the forecast called for rain and it seemed much of Cincinnati’s west side was hit with a downpour, but it stayed dry at the Pit.
“The Blessed Virgin was protecting the field from rain,” he said. “It was like we had a bubble.”
Rain or shine, the 11th annual Family Rosary Rally will go on at 1:30 p.m. May 15 at Elder. If the weather holds, it will be in The Pit. If it rains, the event will move inside to Elder’s field house.
The event includes hymns, scripture reading, the recitation of the rosary, benediction and other prayers. This year’s officiant is Jesuit Father Pat Fairbanks, pastor of St. Xavier Church in Cincinnati.
This story first appeared in the May 2016 print edition of The Catholic Telegraph.