Last Thursday on August 22, 2019, on the feast of the Queenship of Mary, approximately 800 people gathered at TD Place at Lansdowne Park in Ottawa to pray the Rosary. Praying the Rosary in a football stadium gained footing in the U.S. years ago, and popularly became known as the “Rosary Bowl”, a cheeky appropriation of U.S. College Football Bowl venues. To read more about the history of the Rosary Bowl, in the U.S. click here. Those who gathered at TD Place were there to pray the Rosary for our country and the Catholic Church, asking Our Lady’s help in this difficult hour in history.
My family at the Rosary Bowl circa Aug.22,2019; from left, Emma, Tonya, Lara (spouse), Clarissa, Yours Truly, and Sophia
Unlike most of the past events that I had participated in, there was precious little for me to do except to spread the word prior to the event and show up with my family on the day. It is a welcome change, but something I have not been accustomed to in the past. It’s strange feeling to know that Our Lady is really and truly driving the bus on this endeavour . There are no great strategies at play here. No complicated politics. No hidden agendas. All we have to do is follow the path that Our Lady is laying before us and just walk it.
I see the Rosary Bowl as a critical event in the restoration of the Catholic Faith in Canada,
both in the Church and society at large. To me, it represents a concrete footing to rebuild the house of God in Canada, throughout North America, and the world! If this sounds rather optimistic and unlikely, I can understand that opinion from a merely human perspective. After all, the event was pretty innocuous and insignificant. One hour at Lansdowne Park, praying the Rosary is going to change Canada? Really?
I have been saying this to as many people who will hear me, often to blank and disinterested stares. I understand the reaction, but in some respects, this has actually been in Our Lady’s plan from the beginning. When people asked me if I was hoping for a bigger turnout, my response has always been that the numbers need to be relatively small so as not to bring too much attention at this time. I mention Gideon in the Old Testament to ensure people start thinking of numbers in a biblical context. Eventually, and at the right time, the numbers will explode. I am convinced of this. But, at the end of the day, it’s not about the numbers, it’s about a spiritual restoration and rebirth of our country ad Jesum per Mariam. One of
the principal objectives of the Rosary Bowl was to encourage people to enrol in the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary to help build up the confraternity so that Our Lady will hear our prayers and secure from her Son the necessary graces for a genuine revival.
For me, personally, the Rosary Bowl was very successful for a number of reasons. First of all, this event will show in the not-too-distant future the power of the Rosary when many Christians are gathered to pray. Pope Pius IX once said, “Give me an army praying the Rosary and I will conquer the world." It is my belief that such a power is exponential when conducted in large numbers. We now await what door Our Lady will open for us to walk through in the coming months and years toward the year 2022, the 75th anniversary of the 1947 International Marian Congress held at Lansdowne Park.
Secondly, the event also recalled an important fact: Lansdowne Park is actually holy ground. The massive 1947 Marian Congress was the first evidence of this. But it is by no means the only major event. In 1978, the Ontario Catholic Charismatic Conference was hosted at Lansdowne Park with approximately 10,000 people attending. In 2006, one of the first ever Humanae Vitae Conference in the world hosted hundreds of people at Lansdowne Park with medical professionals, theologians, married couples, and popular Catholic evangelists participating. Now with the 2019 Rosary Bowl and a monumental 2022 Marian event only around the corner, perhaps, God-willing, even something more permanent is in the future at Lansdowne Park as part of a Capital pilgrimage experience.
Thirdly, evangelization is not a program. It’s not a conference. It’s not an event. It’s about fostering a family relationship, a spiritual family relationship. Without that component, evangelization will remain plastic, cold, and largely ineffective. True conversion is about introducing people to the Father and the Son through the Mother. In our evangelization efforts thus far, however, Our Lady has not been given the prominence that she deserves and which is critically important to our evangelization efforts. The Rosary Bowl helped us move the needle in that direction.
Lastly religious freedom is seriously under attack in Canada and in the West, as more and more people see religion as something unimportant and even backward in a modern state. To help preserve our rights as Catholics, it is imperative that we demonstrate our Faith in a public fashion and invite everyone to reconsider the Christian foundation and roots of our country, and how the Catholic religion had an enormous role in shaping it. During the course of the event, people did notice. In the condo apartments, residents looked down from their condos to the field below, the patrons at Lansdowne Park watched with interest, and the Park’s employees were also exposed. We cannot attract people to the Faith without first showing what the Faith is about. There is much to attract inquirers to the Faith: social solidarity, family, and its beautiful doctrines.
As I mentioned earlier, the significance of this event will only be understood and appreciated in hindsight by future generations. Everything of worth starts with prayer. Throw in holy ground, the historical significance of the 1947 Congress, and the Cape’s pilgrim statue at Blessed Sacrament parish (just four blocks away), and you have a compelling witness that we are on the edge of a future momentous event which will lead to the transformation of this country.
Video of Rosary Bowl: