Tag: rosary

Travelling the World to Reach One Heart

“I’m taking a rosary walk.”

“Don’t get lost.”

“Very funny.”

I stood up stiffly from the low cot where I had been reading for hours under piles of blankets and leaned against the damp windowsill, peering through the dirty glass into a bleak Alaskan landscape. The late October light was watery and faded here in the far Northwest. For thousands of acres in every direction, the tundra stretched out gray-brown and flat, with no break except for winding rivulets and pools that divided the boggy ground into puzzle pieces. No matter how far I walked, I would never get lost as long as I could still see this haphazard Yupik village huddling on the horizon.

Michelle Kazanjian holds the rosary bracelet she found in Alaska.

My husband John and I were in Alaska for a ten-day Live Free mission, but mostly it felt like a silent retreat. I was catching up on sleep (the sun didn’t rise until almost 10 a.m.), praying a lot, and teaching myself Italian for fun. We were invited by intrepid Bishop Chad, an ex-military chaplain who hung up on Vatican City when they gave him “the call”—he thought it was a prank. But, no, it was for real. Chad Zielinski, from Alpena, Michigan, was consecrated bishop of the Fairbanks diocese in 2014. It is the largest diocese in the US, with 409,849-square miles, and yet there are only seventeen active priests. The bishop travels by plane from village to village with a simple duffel; he walks a mile or so from airport to village unless someone remembers to come and get him from the tarmac in an ATV; he seems to survive mostly on seal jerky. Bishop Chad called us to bring the message of deliverance to his people, because he was concerned with the wave of suicides that were making national news, a shocking and heart-rending manifestation of the deep depression, hopelessness, violence, and addiction that grips the remotest corners of our forty-ninth state.

This village was our last stop. We had been traveling with a missionary priest, Fr. Greg, who spends two-to-four days a month with each of his five parishes. The official idea was that we would give talks on deliverance and pray with people for freedom. The unofficial idea was that we would mingle with the people, mostly native Americans, and get to know them and their stories. The reality was apathy. People stayed to themselves and kept busy with their activities, except for gangs of children who followed us around, and small bands of faithful Catholics who greeted us at the daily Mass—if you can call four days a month “daily.”

The presentations we gave were attended by eight people at the most, and these groups consisted of mothers and grandmothers who were trying to hold their families together. Most of them work full-time as well as caring for multiple children, grand-children, and great-grandchildren; additionally, there is a strong culture of taking in orphans or virtual orphans, so many of the homes held up to ten or more kids. These women were desperate to preserve the faith in their families, faith that had dwindled severely in the last few decades. The Church in Alaska has suffered from the precipitous decline in the numbers of missionary nuns and priests who used to carry the full weight of parishes and schools. There is no model—and no time—for lay involvement in church programs, so the old paradigm of catechesis and formation continues at a painful, hamstrung pace. John and I were present to witness First Communions and Confirmations of twenty- and thirty-year-olds who had finally finished their catechetical preparation, begun in grade school.

By this point in our mission trip, weariness and discouragement were dogging us. Not only was it disappointing to have come so far and invested so much for so little a visible result, but the weight of despair over the land was spiritually and emotionally draining. Every native person we talked to had stories of losing friends and family to suicide, not just one but many. Truly we were witnessing the disintegration of a people group. One eighty-five-year-old woman wailed to me,

“We used to be so rich. We had the land; we had all the food we needed from the land; we had each other. Now our children are poor. They do not know how to survive here anymore. They want to leave. They go away when the  government check comes; then they come back with nothing.”

Beyond that, we were witnessing the dissolution of faith. Missionaries had zealously criss-crossed this same tundra and brought Christianity to the Eskimo groups.  But belief in Christ was dying out as surely as whaling.

I set out walking with all of this weighing heavily on my heart, praying as I went. It felt good to leave the untidy confines of the village and shake off my lethargy. I took a meandering path, because it was impossible to walk in a straight line. I was continually diverted by impassible bogs and swirling creeks. I began talking aloud to God about the mission; about the sadness I saw around me; about the faithful, aging priests, and their overwhelming workloads.

Far from the village, I started on my rosary, counting on my fingers. It was a Wednesday, so I recited the Glorious Mysteries. The Resurrection: faith. The Ascension, hope. The Coming of the Holy Spirit . . . Something bright on the ground caught my eye, a startling pink against the dun turf. I looked down, and I saw at my feet a thin, pink thread and a sparkle of metal. I bent down and picked it up. It was a hand-knotted rosary bracelet with one small heart charm attached.

My heart pounded and I looked at the sky. This was one of those moments when you say, “God sees me.” God knew exactly where I was, in the lonely Alaskan wilderness, saying a rosary—and He knew exactly where that tiny bracelet was, half-buried in the mud. He brought us together.

I understood. The power of prayer, especially when joined with the prayer of Our Mother, is beyond the power of despair. And if we travel to the corners of the earth only to lift one heart out of the mud, it’s worth it.

Although set on the ground in Michigan, this is the small rosary bracelet that Michelle Kazanjian found while praying a rosary in the Alaskan tundra.

‘Dear Troubled Catholics’ Continued: Persevere in Prayer

The following article originally appeared in Renewal Ministries’ March 2019 newsletter, which you can view here.

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Very Dear Brothers and Sisters,

As the spiritual battle increases in intensity both in the Church and in the world, those who are diligently persevering in trying to follow Jesus and to be faithful to Him become ever the dearer to one another. To have companions on the journey (and there are so many of us who are making the journey together as friends of Renewal Ministries and of each other) is a great blessing.

People continue to ask me what my current thinking is, particularly on the crisis that continues to unfold in the Church. I think what I said in my letter Dear Troubled Catholics that we published in the September 2018 issue, which is available on our website (www.RenewalMinistries.net ) continues to represent how I see the situation and what my advice would continue to be. Unfortunately, in the months since we published the letter, there have been near-constant continuing revelations of abuse, cover up, and outright lying among some of the Church’s worldwide leadership. And some of the people who continue to hold high positions in Rome, including some recently appointed, are deeply troubling, particularly as it pertains to homosexuality and the cover up of immorality among the clergy.

I would also say that the first instinct of many in leadership continues to be to try to protect the reputation of the institution, often at the expense of telling the real truth, in order to placate the world and its values.

At the same time, many mature Catholic laypeople are respectfully but forcefully confronting some of this lack of courage and truthfulness, and they often are finding receptivity among the leadership they address. Bishops can’t outsource their primary roles as preachers of the Gospel to their communication and public relation departments, whose understandable tendency is to “put out the fires” and “make the Church look good” even in moments when the corrupt culture of the world needs to be directly confronted rather than placated. Remember what Cardinal DiNardo said when he announced the serious reform steps the bishops were planning to take: “Hold us to this.” Unfortunately, the bishops were later forbidden by Rome to take those steps toward reform. Let’s hope that they will soon be able to do so. Let’s continue to respectfully hold the bishops to the honesty and sincere reform that is absolutely essential for a healthy Church.

While the abuse of minors issue certainly is of great importance, it appears that significant leadership in Rome and other places would like to keep our focus exclusively there and not allow attention to also be directed to sexual immorality, not only with “vulnerable adults,” but with anyone, consensual or not. Serious violations of chastity corrupt the clerical perpetrators and also those who are sinned with. I think the advice I gave in my September letter still stands. Let me repeat it, with a few additions, for your consideration.

“And so, what can we do as we continue to pray for the pope and our leaders that God may give them the wisdom and courage to deal with the root of the rot and bring about a real renewal of holiness and evangelization in the Church?

“We need to go about our daily lives, trying to live each day in a way pleasing to God, loving Him and loving our neighbor, including the neighbor in our own families. We need to look to ourselves, lest we fall.

“We need to remember that even though we have this treasure in earthen vessels (or as some translations put it, “cracked pots”), the treasure is no less the treasure. Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater! Baby Jesus is the treasure, and He is still as present as ever and still as ready to receive all who come to Him. And the Mass! Every day, He is willing to come to us in such a special way. Let’s attend daily Mass even more frequently, to offer the sacrifice of Jesus’ death and resurrection to God the Father, in the power of the Holy Spirit, for the salvation of souls and the purification of the Church. Where would we be without Him? We simply wouldn’t be at all!

“We need to remember that the Catholic Church is indeed founded by Christ and, despite all problems, has within it the fullness of the means of salvation. Where else can we go? Nowhere; this is indeed our Mother and Home, and she needs our love, our prayers, and our persevering in the way of holiness more than ever.

“We need to remember that there are many truly holy and dedicated bishops and priests, and we must pray for them and support them. They need and deserve our support.

“We need to remember that this isn’t the first time such grave problems have beset the Church. In the fourteenth century, St. Catherine of Siena bemoaned the “stench of sin” coming from the papal court and prophesied that even the demons were disgusted by the homosexual activity he had tempted priests into and the cover up by their superiors! (See chapters 124-125 of Catherine of Siena’s The Dialogue.)

“That isn’t to say that we don’t need to take seriously and do all we can in response to the grave scandal we are facing in our time. We need not to be silent when the truth is not preached in our parish churches. We need to encourage those who preach it when it is preached. We need not to be silent or passive when we see shady things happening. We should not hesitate to ask for an appointment with our bishop or to write to him and respectfully yet directly, share with him our concerns.

“And yet we need to remember that all this is happening under the providence of God, and He has a plan to bring good out of it. It was even prophesied strongly in Mary’s apparitions in Akita, Japan. Jesus is still Lord and will use the current grave problems to bring about good.

“And finally, I’m beginning to see why the Lord has impressed on me so strongly in the past year the urgent need to heed the appeals of Our Lady of Fatima. Indeed, as Mary said,

“Pray, pray very much, and make sacrifices for sinners; for many souls go to hell, because there are none to sacrifice themselves and to pray for them.”

Let’s continue to pray and offer sacrifices for the conversion of sinners and as reparation for sin, and let’s pray the rosary daily as Mary requested, for peace in the world and true renewal in the Church. And let’s continue to be encouraged and inspired by all the wonderful things that we see the Lord doing all throughout the world!

Your brother in Christ,



Calling on Mary in the Rosary

In Renewal Ministries’ January 2018 newsletter, Country Coordinator Lloyd Greenhaw outlines “A Survival Plan for 2018 and Beyond,” that you can read here. In it, he mentions the unique ways in which he invokes Mary’s intercession while praying the rosary. We are sharing those details below:

By Lloyd Greenhaw

I invoke the intercession of Mary at each decade of the Rosary. I begin with Our Lady of Fatima, asking her if I can join her in praying for the conversion of Russia and the triumph of her Immaculate Heart.

At the second decade, I ask Our Lady of Kibeho, who is the Mother of the Word, to plant the Word of God deep within me. I ask that it would transform me into the image of her Beloved Son and flow from me like a mighty river of living water, flooding the parched land and bringing forth abundant new life in Christ Jesus.

At the third decade, I ask Our Lady of Guadalupe to allow me to join her in praying for an end to abortion. I ask her to key another mighty revival as she once did in Mexico, that it would begin in the USA and spread worldwide, and that billions of souls would come to a saving knowledge of her Son.

At the fourth decade, I ask Our Lady of Lourdes, who is the Immaculate Conception, that her Immaculate Heart would triumph in Nancy and I, in our marriage, in our family, and in the ministry we serve.

At the fifth decade, I invite our Lady of Genesis 3:15 to come crush the head of the ancient serpent, who is the accuser of mankind and the father of all lies. I ask that our nation would truly become one nation under God and for a reversal of the culture of death.

At the Holy Queen, I invite Momma Maria to reign and rule in my life. I ask that God’s perfect will would be accomplished in this year of 2018 in and through her and the triumph of her Immaculate Heart.

[photo source]

Join Monthly Telephone Rosary for Missions

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Join us in a monthly rosary for Renewal Ministries’ mission work! Renewal Ministries’ supporters Mike and Kathleen O’Donnell have offered to lead a rosary over the phone on the first Tuesday of every month at 7:30 p.m. ET. We will pray for Renewal Ministries’ international mission trips for that month, and the outreach being done by Ralph Martin, Sr. Ann Shields, Peter Herbeck, Pete Burak, Dr. Mary Healy, and Debbie Herbeck. The first rosary will take place on June 6. The rosary for July will take place on the second Tuesday, July 11.

Kathleen said the Holy Spirit inspired her with the idea after hearing country coordinators discuss mission trips at the 2017 Gathering.

“While praying the rosary in my room, I thought about all the people that can’t go on a mission trip for various reasons. I was especially thinking about the missions to areas in which there is danger involved, and all the challenges faced by those trying to bring Christ or further the kingdom in these distant lands,” Kathleen said. “Since Mary is the vessel that brought and brings Jesus to others, I thought that, once a month, we could have a special conference call rosary to pray for the success and safety of the upcoming trips. I thought dedicated prayer for these trips would be helpful, because the enemy hates them, and I’m sure tries to lay plans to divert their success.”

The couple has been leading similar conference-call rosaries for individual’s intentions weekly for two-and-a-half years. Because of the nature of a conference call, and the time delays that can happen when people talk, Kathleen leads the prayer and others join in silently or by muting their phone so that they can pray out loud. Before each rosary, Kathleen shares different meditations on the mysteries being prayed that month. Participants are welcome to stay on the line for the entire rosary, or for as many decades as they have time for.

“A lot of people can’t go into the mission field, but everyone can pray,” Kathleen added. “When people join, they feel connected. That is a beautiful part of the fruit.”

To join in, simply make a phone call. Dial 712-775-7031 and enter code 665-735-271 #. If you call before the line is open, you will hear music playing. Please stay on the line until the rosary begins! The line usually opens at 7:25 p.m. ET.

You may join us for a decade or the entire rosary! It usually takes about twenty-five minutes to pray the whole rosary.

(This call is long distance, unless you are using a plan with unlimited long distance or a cell phone.)

Thank you to Kathleen and to all who pray for Renewal Ministries and our mission work! Your prayers bear untold fruit!

(If you are interested in the rosary Kathleen leads every Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. ET, simply follow the directions above to join in! If you would like her to include your intentions, please email them to her by noon on Wednesday, at kodonnell613@comcast.net.)