Each afternoon at 4 p.m., Pat Monfre gathers around a Zoom screen to pray the rosary with Liz Kuhn, director of faith formation at Queen of Apostles Parish, and about a dozen other individuals who have become their spiritual community during the coronavirus lockdown.
“It’s been interesting to watch the clock every day and be aware that it is almost time for the Rosary,” said Monfre, a member of Queen of Apostles Parish. “It seemed at first it might become a chore, but it became a joy. (I look) forward to visiting and praying with friends and parishioners on a daily basis. We were all kind of ‘locked’ in our homes during COVID-19. (There were) people we had not seen for a while, and suddenly we saw them daily to pray the rosary together.”
Kuhn decided to offer the Zoom Rosary after reading Pope Francis’ Letter on the Month of May. He reminded the faithful that May is the traditional period to honor Mary and pray the rosary at home with family.
“He wanted everyone to rediscover the beauty of praying the rosary at home,” she said. “To that end, he provided two prayers to Mary that he would pray in union with us. He said that praying the rosary would unite us as a family and help us overcome this time of trial. The prayers specifically ask Mary’s intercession with the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Kuhn invited anyone who wished to participate to the daily rosary for May. The only tools needed for participation were a rosary and a phone. After the rosary, the group would pray the two prayers that Pope Francis provided. She advertised the opportunity and was unsure how many would join.
On the first day, Kuhn led the rosary, and for each subsequent day, a different leader and follower led the group.
“We quickly figured out that the rest of us needed to mute or pray silently,” joked Kuhn. “(That first month) we had anywhere from six to 16 on Zoom ranging in age from a toddler to a young adult, to a young mother, to an elder. People could come and go as their schedules allowed. Everyone was committed to praying daily for the entire month.”
Before the lockdowns, some parishioners were accustomed to praying the rosary four days a week, either before or after the weekday Masses. When the lockdowns began, parishioners could only participate in one weekday Mass per week solely through streaming on YouTube, said Kuhn.
“In the middle of June 2020, parishioners could once again come in person or on YouTube, but still only one day a week. In August 2020, a second daily Mass was added. We have been operating like that ever since,” she said. “It turned out that the parishioners really missed being together four days a week for the Mass and Rosary. They soon found benefit in the camaraderie and the prayers on the daily Zoom. At least one of the elders was isolated for months, except for grocery shopping — this call was a lifeline for her.”
Originally, Kuhn planned to host the Zoom group for one month, but some group members asked to continue. They had expected to stop the Zoom Rosary once the parish returned to four weekday Masses, but since they are still at two, they are continuing to pray each afternoon.
“We have a solid group of 12 people; most are elders, but we do have a college student that joins from the University of Nebraska,” said Kuhn. “Again, people come and go as their schedules allow. We’ve developed a routine based on alphabetical order where person A leads decade one, person B follows decade one, person B leads decade two, person C follows decade two, etc. When we get to the prayers at the end, we alternate paragraphs or lines based on the same order. More folks can participate that way, and we always know the order, even when people are missing. Of course, folks can call in from practically anywhere — and they do.”
Each day, the group solicits intentions before they pray. Pat Monfre and Bruce Nogalski keep a list.
“We prayed for family members, friends in need, fellow parishioners, and before we knew it, our list grew to almost 2,000 asking for our help with prayer. We prayed for a young man awaiting a kidney donation, for a young woman with an eating disorder, people with cancer, very sick with COVID-19, terrible car accidents and so many physical ailments,” said Monfre. “We prayed for the doctors and nurses, the health workers, local firefighters and police officers, all who in any way help during the pandemic. These prayers helped me see the way through the terrible uncertainties we all had and brought us close together as we watched family members die or be hospitalized or sheltered where they could not have visitors. I saw faith and trust grow in believing God was certainly a presence as we became stronger and closer. To pray with a group of caring people daily for a whole year is an awesome experience. I believe a strong bond was formed — both with God and with each other.”
Kuhn admitted she would have been the last person to pray a daily rosary, but the routine has grounded her during the constantly shifting pandemic.
“I can share my daily joys and concerns, both big and small,” she said. “My dad died at the beginning of April. This group accompanied me each day. Hopefully, I have been a friend to them as well. My family is also supportive — although sometimes there is a slight cringe when the alarm goes off and we’re in the middle of something.”
All are welcome to participate in the 4 p.m. Zoom Rosary
Contact Liz Kuhn: firstname.lastname@example.org or 262-691-1535, ext. 108, for a Zoom link.
To read Pope Francis’ letter and the prayers, visit: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2020-04/pope-encourages-faithful-to-pray-rosary-at-home.html