Attendees pray during Mass at Rosary Bowl NW.
Attendees pray during Mass at Rosary Bowl NW.

More than a thousand people gathered today at the Oregon State Fairgrounds, clutching rosaries as they prayed for peace in the world and in their hearts.

The seventh annual Rosary Bowl NW, coordinated and staffed by volunteers from all over the Salem-Keizer and Portland-metro areas, brings Catholics together for a day of apostolic blessing with plenary indulgence, Mass, rosary, adoration, solemn vespers and benediction.

It’s all done for the love of Mary, said volunteer Deletta Fuller, a parishioner at St. Boniface Church in Sublimity.

“It’s a chance for us to get everyone together to pray for peace and to serve the Lord as best we can,” she said.

Archbishop Alexander Sample celebrated Mass, along with priests from other parts of the Archdiocese of Portland and seminarians from Mount Angel.

Held on the first Saturday in October, Rosary Bowl NW began in 2007. A group of lay Catholics was inspired by Servant of God Father Patrick Peyton, who promoted the family rosary and had a devotion to the Blessed Mother. Rosary Bowl NW promotes the motto popularized by Father Peyton: “The family that prays together stays together.”

Keynote speaker this year was Marian Father Leszek Czelusniak, director of the Marian Formation Center in Kibeho, Rwanda. Originally from Poland, Father Czelusniak and other Marian missionaries seek to provide financial, social and spiritual stability for a population healing after civil war and the genocide of nearly one million people in the 1990s.

A 15-person committee, led by President Rob Hale, Vice President Brian Beyer, and secretary Lisa Walker, works throughout the year to organize the large-scale prayer event, which is funded strictly through donations.

“The goal is to get more and more people every year,” said Beyer, who is in charge of the Eucharistic Miracles of the World exhibit. Set up in the large pavilion, the exhibit shares historical photographs and descriptions of church-recognized miracles that have taken place all over the world throughout history.

Ed Gustafson, a Knight of Columbus from St. Joseph the Worker Church, answered visitors’ questions about the Dominican Rosary Center in Portland. He attends the Rosary Bowl every year.

“I’m devoted to the rosary myself,” he said, adding that it’s important for others to understand the power of prayer. “The rosary is something you can focus on and help get yourself on the right path.”

Organizer Rob Hale said people travel all over the region to attend the event.

“There’s nothing else like it,” he said. “They enjoy being able to come and pray with so many other people.”

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