Joseph Pronechen is staff writer with the National Catholic Register since 2005 and before that a regular correspondent for the paper. His articles have appeared in a number of national publications including Columbia magazine, Soul, Faith and Family, Catholic Digest, and Marian Helper. His religion features have also appeared in Fairfield County Catholic and in major newspapers. He is the author of Fruits of Fatima — Century of Signs and Wonders. He holds a graduate degree and formerly taught English and courses in film study that he developed at a Catholic high school in Connecticut. Joseph and his wife Mary reside on the East Coast.
After two-and-a-half-years in production, the film Power in My Hands had two power-packed premieres in April — the world premiere in Milwaukee followed by the West Coast premiere in Los Angeles. The message is as timely as today and ancient as a millennium ago.
People like Father Donald Calloway, Phil Rivers, Doug Barry, and Archbishop Jerome Listecki were some of the highly recognizable names present. Along with others, they appear in Power in My Hands to magnify the film’s theme of hope and the power of prayer to today’s troubled world. The film delivers both in abundance.
Powerhouse appearances from Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers, Kelly Wahlquist, and men and women with beautifully moving testimonies of what the Rosary has done and is doing in their lives brings personal appeal in such a way that raises the film beyond the ordinary.
The stories are not only exceptionally moving, but motivating. Take Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers’ story of the power of hope and persistence in the Rosary that eventually led to his father’s miraculous conversion and reconciliation.
Take Nancy Salerno’s witness of raising four children with her husband Mark, especially focusing on son Nicholas, severely disabled with a form of Cerebral Palsy, and what the Rosary and Our Lady has meant in their lives. Today she is also an inspiration speaker.
Power in My Hands opens dramatically with the stories of difficulties people faced growing up, heading into sin or hearing a, shocking diagnosis, but came to the healing they needed through discovering that power placed in their hands by Our Blessed Mother.
If there ever was a St. Paul-like modern day conversion, it would be hard to top the dramatic one Marian Father Donald Calloway had — through the Blessed Mother and the Rosary.
What helps make these stories and testimonies so vivid, personal, stirring, and ultimately motivating and encouraging is not only what people share so personally but in the way they share it. Filmmakers Margie Mandli and Backflip Films’ Ryan Freng and John Shoemaker aren’t household names, but they know how to use film to get to the truth and heart of the matter beyond blah textbook filmmaking. It’s done so unobtrusively that you feel you’re sitting with or standing by everyone as a friend with ears and heart open. That’s what allows the truth and beauty of the theme to shine through.
Phil Rivers, quarterback for the Los Angeles Chargers, looks us in the eye and tells us “any man would tell you they love their mother” and “as men, as boys, our role is to lead that (Rosary) in our families to share it with fellow men in the parish, to encourage them to...start praying with your families even if it’s just a decade.”
Bishop Oliver Dashe Doeme tells us of his 2014 experience before the Blessed Sacrament as Jesus appeared to him, handed him a sword that then turned into a white Rosary, and said three times: “Boko Haram is gone.”
“The message was very obvious and very clear,” Bishop Doeme says, “that with the Rosary we’ll be able to defeat the demon of Boko Haram.” Of secularism and today’s challenges, he says: “As long as we continue to intensify the prayer of the Rosary the evils and the demons of our day would definitely be destroyed…the only way out for the American Church and the American people is to go to our Blessed Virgin Mother, embark on various Marian devotions, and most especially, the prayer of the Rosary. Once that is done, we’ll definitely see tremendous changes.”
Power in My Hands makes a perfect case for putting and using this power in our hands. One to-the-point section challenges men.
“One of the greatest things that men can do in our times is to take up the sword of the Rosary because that’s really what it is,” affirms Father Calloway. “I think that’s particularly important for men because I’m a guy. I love to have a weapon. I think all guys love guns and bows and arrows and you know swords. …I think that if men understood that’s wat the Rosary is — a weapon that’s been given to us to help us to grow and to become good men like Christ and to be defenders of beauty, defenders of truth…”
Jeff Cavins tells men when talking about the Rosary you’re talking about battle. As Jews carried the Ark of the Covenant into battle, we must carry the New Ark of the Covenant, Mary. “In a spiritual sense it (the Rosary) is far more powerful than a gun or a sword…because this intervenes on a spiritual level with the diabolical elements out there in the world today.”
Cavins reminds fathers that God put them as a watchman on the tower of their family and to take the Rosary up “in the midnight hour and fight for your family.”
If that doesn’t stir men, Father Calloway emphasizes “when men come together and pray that Rosary it’s like a thunderous battle cry…We need men to step up to the challenge and take up that weapon of war and to pray it.”
The riches of the film overflow. Take the place of devotion to Mary in a young Nashville couple’s courtship — Rebecca Roubion and Chris Czarka. Learn what Father Calloway has written on the bottom of his surfboard that we all need to live by.
Power in My Hands comes through the extraordinary vision of The Rosary Evangelization Apostolate and its founders, Dick and Terry Boldin (who co-founded it with then Archbishop Timothy Dolan), to awaken America and revitalize it with “a story of Hope and the Power of Prayer” — which the film delivers beautifully and powerfully.
See it at other premiere locations, next Portland, Oregon May 17; then Houston, Atlanta, and New York City. Check details, or arrange for local showings (over 700 requests in so far!). DVDs are in the works. Now put Power in My Hands into yours.