The Dominicans are inviting Catholics nationwide to participate in a nine-month novena that will culminate with a day-long rosary pilgrimage this fall in Washington, D.C.
“The purpose of the Dominican Rosary Pilgrimage and nine-month novena prayer is to gather Catholics in the U.S. together to draw close to Jesus through Mary in the Holy Rosary,” Fr. John Paul Kern, O.P., told Our Sunday Visitor, “so that we may be set on fire with a burning love for God and zeal for the salvation of souls.”
Kern, a Dominican friar of the Province of St. Joseph and the director of the Rosary Shrine of St. Jude and the Dominican Friars Foundation, added: “This is something I think people are really hungry for and which we need today.”
To participate in the novena, Catholics are asked to recite a prayer nine times over the course of nine months — on the 30th of each month, from January 30 to September 30. People can say the prayer more frequently if they wish, and pray the rosary too.
While the novena began on January 30, the faithful can join at any time.
A pilgrimage to Washington
At the end of the nine months, a pilgrimage will take place at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 30, the vigil of Rosary Sunday. The free event includes talks, adoration, confession, Mass, and, of course, praying the rosary.
Those who are unable to travel to D.C. that day can watch a livestream on the Dominican Rosary Pilgrimage website.
While the pilgrimage physically takes place on Sept. 30, it begins now, spiritually, with the novena, Kern said. He explained why this novena lasts for nine months, rather than the typical nine days.
“Just as Jesus was conceived and Mary pondered him in her heart for nine months before he was born, we turn to Jesus and ponder him in prayer together with Mary during the nine-month novena,” he said, “to prepare for a beautiful manifestation of the mystical body of Christ, the Church, gathered together with Our Lady in the Rosary and united in the Eucharistic Body of Christ at the event in D.C.”
He described the event as a new initiative led by the Dominican Friars of the Province of St. Joseph together with Dominican friars, nuns, sisters, and laity throughout the U.S. The Dominicans have a special relationship with the rosary: The Blessed Virgin Mary originally entrusted it to St. Dominic, the founder of their order.
For this event, Kern said, they took their inspiration from the annual Rosary Pilgrimage in Lourdes, France, that has continued for more than 100 years.
“We hope that the Lord will pour out similar graces through Our Lady, the Rosary, and this pilgrimage here in our country,” he said.
The novena prayer
Catholics can find out more about the event on the pilgrimage website, where they can sign up to have the novena prayer card — with the prayer’s text — mailed and emailed to them. If they sign up, they will also receive updates, videos, and articles about the rosary.
Kern said that parishes and other ministries can also request a box of prayer cards for their community to join in the novena.
The prayer, composed by a Dominican friar, “expresses our hopes regarding the fruits of the Dominican Rosary Pilgrimage, which we ask for God to graciously grant us,” Kern said.
He revealed that it has already changed one person’s life.
“We have already heard of at least one man who has experienced a reversion to practicing his faith after reciting the novena prayer and we hope that the novena and pilgrimage in DC strengthen the faith of many people and set our souls on fire,” he said.
The prayer’s text reads:
God our Father, we thank you for the gift of your Son,
our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we are
adopted as your beloved sons and daughters.
At Pentecost you poured out the Holy Spirit
upon Our Lady and the Apostles
while they were at prayer.
Pour out that same Holy Spirit upon us
as we meditate upon the mysteries of Christ
contained in the Most Holy Rosary.
Enlighten our faith, strengthen our hope, and
set us ablaze with love for you and our neighbor.
Graciously grant us St. Dominic’s own zeal
for the salvation of souls.
Bless the Dominican Rosary Pilgrimage.
May it lead many souls to Jesus through Mary,
so that we may know you and your saving power
now and for all eternity.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us!
St. Dominic, pray for us!
Katie Yoder is a contributing editor for Our Sunday Visitor.