Dónal O’Sullivan-Latchford is based in Dublin and worked as an international tennis official before becoming involved in Catholic media in Ireland, where he helped with the startup of several Christian radio stations, in particular, as Head of News, and as a presenter/interviewer and programmer. As well as assisting EWTN Ireland, Dónal edits the online publication Faith in the Media and Media Report, which is the print publication of the Family and Media Association (FMA), a Saint John Paul II-inspired group set up as a think tank to analyse and monitor the Irish media for anti-Catholic bias.
In what organizers now anticipate may be the largest religious event of its kind in Ireland for almost 40 years, the Rosary on the Coast for Life and Faith in Ireland, this Sunday, will see tens of thousands of Irish people make their way to over 250 coastal locations to pray for the protection of life and faith on the island.
The event will take place on the Feast of Christ the King, this Sunday Nov. 26, and, in 1946, Ireland became the first country in the world to be consecrated to Christ the King. The Rosary on the Coast for Life and Faith prayer program includes a renewal of this historic consecration.
One of the organizers of the Rosary on the Coast is EWTN’s Celtic Connections radio show host, Kathy Sinnott, who in a special program on Saturday, Celtic Connection’s producer Paul MacAree about the event, which he described as “a major, major initiative.”
“I can’t remember such a major faith initiative,” said MacAree, since Pope Saint John Paull II visited Ireland in 1979.
This all-island prayer initiative was inspired by several important developments, organizers said, including: the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady in Fatima; a 33 day personal consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which is currently taking place and involves over 30,000 people and families in Ireland, along with the successor of St. Patrick, Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh; and, perhaps most directly, the Polish and Italian Rosary on the Borders, which last month involved over two million people praying for a strengthening of faith and an ending of abortion in those countries.
There are two special prayer intentions for the Rosary on the Coast in Ireland. One of these is to defend life against the threat of abortion. The second is for the preservation of the faith.
Threats to Life Island-Wide
The threat of abortion is seen as an all-Ireland threat. “Whatever happens in one half is going to affect the whole”, as Kathy puts it. “In terms of the threat to life, we’re one island.”
And although the secular media is decidedly pro-abortion, that fact is not about to cause the Celtic Connections host to loose much sleep.
“We don’t have the media,” Sinnott said. “But … We have guardian angels. We have Our Lady. We have our prayers.”
“Long before the media was invented, when you wanted something, you prayed. We’re going over [the media’s] heads. We’re going with our mother, our Queen, the Immaculate Heart of Mary and she’s taking us to Jesus Christ the King. And we’re going to ask for those miracles and we’re going to trust that we’re being heard.”
Requesting Faith To Flourish
The second prayer intention is the preservation of the faith in Ireland. Kathy explains how this intention is related to the first: “If our faith is strong, we wouldn’t be even looking at abortion.” And the ‘preservation’ that is being prayed for is not just a question of “hanging in there.” Kathy and the other organisers want nothing less than “the blossoming of the faith, once again, in the hearts, in the souls, in the minds and in the lives of the Irish.”
Along with Sinnott, the organizing committee is mainly made up of young lay Catholics from around Ireland who feel passionate about their country and who have been saddened by what they see as the great loss of faith, and sense of despair that many of their peers feel.
Sinnott explains how that situation began to come about when a ‘squeeze’ was put on the faith in Ireland, in the latter half of the twentieth Century.
“In a way, a tourniquet (a device that stops blood flow by compressing blood vessels) was put on the faith in Ireland, about 50 years ago.”
In schools, the old catechisms were removed and often replaced with dumbed-down versions resembling the Dutch Catechism. These new religious programs deprived young people of the full truths of their faith.
Meanwhile, the advent of television meant that a similar phenomenon was playing out in the home, where the family Rosary once had pride of place. At first, some families, she remembers, responded by keeping a black cloth on top of the television, which the mother would put over the screen at Rosary time. But it wasn’t long before “that black cloth disappeared and television largely replaced the Rosary in families,” said Sinnott.
With the faith having been squeezed in these ways, according to Sinnott’s analysis, it perhaps should not come as any great surprise that the predominantly young group of organizers of the coastal Rosary would perceive a sense of despair among their peers.
But, in spite of this, these young people have been greatly encouraged by the huge response to the Rosary on the Coast initiative, even if it means answering 500-1,000 emails, Facebook messages, phone calls and texts each day.
News of the coastal Rosary for Ireland has rapidly spread and people, parishes and groups from all over the world, and in particular, France, Britain and the United States are organizing their own prayer groups to pray at the same time of 9:30 am EST (2:30 pm Irish time) on Nov. 26.
People who cannot go to the coast are asked to pray wherever they are in the world. This could be at 9:30 am EST (2:30 pm Irish time), or at any other time on Nov.26, for example, at the Hour of Mercy.
Sinnott said, “It may turn out that there are more groups and people praying with us internationally than the number gathered in Ireland. They tell us that Ireland’s defence of life has been a source of hope. And many, whether of Irish descent or not, attribute their faith to the Irish and tell us of their gratitude. When the Faith thrives in Ireland, Ireland, by its nature, and, repeatedly, through history, goes out and gives it to the rest of the world.”
Rosary on the Coast for Life and Faith prayers and the most recent list of confirmed locations can be found at www.coastalrosaryireland.ie or firstname.lastname@example.org or phone +353 872786552.