Sporting their jerseys and school colors, more than 200 student athletes, coaches, parents and fans gathered in faith and team spirit to revive the rosary rally for athletic teams at Catholic schools in central Arkansas.
Held at the St. John Center in Little Rock Aug. 30, it was the first time the rally has been held since 2015.
Father Patrick Friend, teacher and chaplain at Catholic High School in Little Rock, provided a keynote speech where he likened the virtues of playing team sports — fortitude, loyalty, sacrifice, honor and true friendship of wanting your teammates to succeed — as the same that make a good Catholic.
Senior priest Father John Marconi lead the call to prayer and five members of CHS varsity football team lead the rosary.
“Outside of Mass, the rosary is probably the most important single thing you can do,” said rally chairman Mark Springer of Knights of Columbus Council 812 at Our Lady of the Holy Souls Church in Little Rock. “I just wanted to copy what we did in the past. It was very successful, so we just took it up. We invited athletes and cheerleaders from all the local the parochial schools around Little Rock, including those in Morrilton, Conway and Hot Springs.”
The Office of Catholic Schools previously hosted the rally. Superintendent Theresa Hall said Springer contacted her to see if the event could be held again if the Knights sponsored it. Knights’ councils from Holy Souls, Christ the King Church in Little Rock and St. Joseph Church in Conway organized it, provided hot dogs, chips and bottled water and arranged for each participant to receive a rosary made by The Rosary Makers of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Hot Springs Village.
“We contacted our schools and their athletic departments to invite them to bring anybody that wanted to come,” Hall said. “We had 200 that signed up, 140 just from Catholic, which in itself was nice.”
The CHS Rockets’ purple and gold were the dominant colors of the night, joined by fifth through eighth-grade members of the Firecrackers, teams composed of students from the area’s junior high and elementary Catholic schools that play under CHS name.
“It's always great when you see the boys leading prayer,” Father Friend said. “They see themselves as students. They see themselves as athletes. They see themselves as adolescent males. They see themselves in so many different ways, and it's just great that you can remind them that their fundamental identity is Christian.”
Father Friend said Catholic High’s football team starts every game day with Mass and praying the rosary as a team.
“To start their seasons off this way and for them to be able to be examples to the younger guys that are here, especially that this is an important aspect of their faith life, that means the world,” he said.
Senior Rocket quarterback Sam Sanders, one of the prayer leaders, said giving up a Tuesday night to spend time praying the rosary with teammates was well worth it.
“It feels good,” Sanders said. “It means a lot to come together. It makes us closer and gives us a bond beyond football.”
Jennifer Rader attended the rally with her sons, James, a student at Christ the King and member of the junior high Firecrackers football team, and Graham, a fourth grader who can’t wait to play football when he’s eligible next year.
“The senior boys did a great job presenting and leading the crowd,” Rader said. “Great leadership is modeled with excellence from these boys, and I'm very excited that my boys get to follow in their footsteps.”
Springer said it is important to have events for young people to give them an opportunity to come together in faith formation and have some fellowship together.
“We want to make this an annual deal,” he said. “I'm hoping that when we do it again; it will be Knights of Columbus councils and assemblies from across the area that are co-sponsors so that we can increase participation and help the rally grow.”
Please read our Comments Policy before posting.Article comments powered by Disqus