Vallombrosa 300x100 12.2017

Twilight rosary vigil draws hundreds at Holy Name of Jesus parish

03 10.26.17_holyname.rosary PAGEHoly Name of Jesus pastor Father Arnold Zamora and school principal Natalie Cirigliano led hundreds in a twilight rosary Oct. 17, praying the rosary’s decades in turn for the Blessed Mother’s intercession for those affected by a series of recent disasters. (Photo by Valerie Schmalz/Catholic San Francisco)

October 26, 2017
Valerie Schmalz

Several hundred people gathered to pray the rosary for all those hurting in a series of disasters, inside Holy Name of Jesus Church while outside the smell of the smoke from North Bay fires nearly 50 miles away mingled with the cool mist of the fog.

“I was just getting so sad, with everything going on in the world,” said Holy Name principal Natalie Cirigliano, saying she was first really hit by the Oct. 1 Las Vegas shootings, where 58 were killed, followed closely by the North Bay fires that began late Oct. 8. The fires were still burning when the parishioners and school families gathered for the Oct. 17 6 p.m. rosary vigil.

“There was too much sadness. I wanted to do something,” Cirigliano said, noting that she and her husband had planned to go to the Route 91 Harvest Festival, the site of the shooting, but cancelled so they would not miss the birth of her niece.

Cirigliano emailed pastor Father Arnold Zamora with the idea of the rosary vigil.

“He turned it into more than I could imagine,” she said. “It was beautiful.”

Each decade of the rosary’s sorrowful mysteries was dedicated to a different disaster: the Las Vegas shootings, the North Bay fires, hurricanes Irma and Jose, Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Maria.

The parish choir sang a hymn between each mystery and different groups of children and adults brought flowers to place before the statue of the Blessed Mother. Downstairs, a parish room was stockpiled with the fourth load of donations to go north in a truck to those affected by the North Bay fires, an initiative begun by preschool parents that was embraced by the school and the parish.

“First of all this month is the month of the holy rosary,” Father Zamora said, noting that the parish has a rosary group. “Our rosary is really important. You know the history of how we won the battle.”

Oct. 7 is the solemnity of Our Lady of the Rosary, commemorating the 1571 victory at Lepanto, when Catholic forces turned back the forces of the Ottoman Empire in the Mediterranean. Pope Pius V had opened the churches of Rome to pray the rosary day and night for victory.

“It is a powerful prayer for us, especially with what is going on in the world,” Father Zamora said.

“We have a lot of turmoil right now,” said Andrew Contreras, the school’s sixth grade language arts teacher, who attended the vigil with his wife Elizabeth and two children. “It is always good for a community to come together.”

The Catholic Church believes in the rosary and in the intercession of the Blessed Mother, he said.

“We’re having a lot of trouble right now,” Contreras said, “and she is the helper.”

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