The Rosary for Children audio tape (now available in CD form) was consecrated to Our Lady of Fatima in Perth on 13 May 1998 by two young Western Australian housewives and mothers, Brenda Croft and Jenny Knight (see AD2000, August 1998, p. 13). Its success was such - having already reached many countries around the world - that I was asked to promote and sell it in England, Scotland and Ireland.
Taking holiday leave from my job in WA on 6 May 1999, I spoke to 56 formal audiences in five weeks, initially in London, then moving up to Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Bradford, Leeds and Newcastle.
After speaking in Edinburgh, I was welcomed in Paisley's Cathedral, which is just outside of Glasgow, and spoke finally at Lynwood parish. There is a bigger concentration of Catholics on the Western coast of Scotland, and their joy, enthusiasm and strong love for their faith, shared by their Bishop, Canons, and general clergy, was a memory I cherish.
I arrived at Glasgow airport for my flight to Belfast, taking with me 1,900 tapes in 19 boxes, plus all my luggage from Australia, which I carted with me from place to place. The airport personnel were not impressed with my load and spent quite some time telling me I could not possibly take it all on board this small, fully booked commuter aircraft. Then, just before take-off, I was told the whole 19 boxes were on board; significantly, it was the feast of Our Lady Help of Christians. Assuring the airport personnel they'd get to Heaven quicker because of this, I dashed on board and we flew over the Irish Sea.
That same day at St Peter's Belfast Cathedral, Father Gerry McCluskey liaised with the BBC's Talk Back, and I was interviewed by David Dunseath, who lived up to his reputation for being the top presenter in Ulster, Northern Ireland. His 300,000 listeners heard us speaking on the power for peace of the Rosary and the Rosary for Children tape.
I spoke throughout Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, in cathedrals, abbeys, churches, schools, gatherings, Rosary and prayer groups, and to people at large in varieties of places; even in the wonderful Drummond Hotel in Limavady, Ballykelly, County Derry in Northern Ireland, where they have a very strong, fervent prayer group spearheaded by the proprietors, Mairead and James Peoples.
I found the faith in Northern Ireland strong and vibrant. Some ladies at the Drummond Hotel prayer meeting had organised, in less than a day, another whole group for me to speak to at Swatragh the next evening. They and Mairead even arranged five schools for me to speak at within those 24 hours where, as in schools in Leeds and Bradford, the children listened spellbound to the captivating story of the tape's origins, and then recited the Rosary reverently with the tape.
Saturday, 5 June, was an unforgettable memory. My non-Catholic friends, for whom the message of the tape has been welcomed, had come over from England to Knock, and cars and buses from all over Northern Ireland and the Republic brought five to seven thousand people to honour Our Blessed Mother during the All Ireland Rosary Rally.
To have been given permission by Archbishop Neary of County Mayo to speak at Knock was a significant and unforgettable honour. The thousands who heard appreciated the tape's powerful role in evangelising and appreciated the need to fight hard in the spiritual battle which is currently being waged in society, by returning to the Rosary, the meditations on the life of Christ and, above all, frequent reception of the Sacraments of the Catholic Church.
That night I spoke at two Masses and six the following morning, alternating between two churches in Ballinasloe, with extraordinary co-operation by clergy and lay friends. Timing was so concise that I was raced between the two churches, speaking after the Gospel in one, and then off to the other church in Creagh, to speak after Holy Communion.
In one instance, I was scheduled to speak at two 10 am Masses in different locations! And thanks to the efforts of others, we achieved this. That evening, it was a Mass and Rosary in Kinnegad, a week's respite with relatives in County Clare, and then finally an unforgettable Rosary Rally in Ennis Cathedral where here, too, the hospitality and commitment of all concerned made it a night which summed up Ireland to me. It is a land of warm and wonderful people. A land of faith, where people bless themselves in private or on public transport when passing churches - whether current or ancient ruins - graveyards and the edifying roadside shrines.
Some fear the success of the Celtic Tiger, which has brought such affluence to Ireland, will diminish the faith. But as the Rosary is back on Ireland's school curriculum, and people still turn out for Rosary rallies, overflowing Masses, public demonstrations of faith, and "May He Rest In Peace" is still included in secular newspaper obituaries, I believe Ireland's faith will be looked on lovingly by God.
Rosary Evangelization Australia sold 7,200 tapes in those five weeks which, in addition to other sales worldwide, now tops 45,000 in a year. This is indicative of a spiritual hunger that the tape with its messages and prayers is trying to address. The newly released Rosary for Youth, also created by Jenny and Brenda, with its solid Catholic teaching, will also help to bring back God into the lives of many more thousands.
Both tapes are available from Rosary Evangelization Australia, 7 Thyme Close, Thornlie, WA 6108 Australia, tel +61 (08) 9259-0797, fax +61 (08) 9259-4054.
Colleen McGuiness-Howard is a Perth (WA) journalist.