Rosary rallies promote prayer in the public square

Melissa Keating

A rosary crusader and Catholic Charities are teaming up to bring rosary rallies back to Denver.

Sam Perry, a member of the board of trustees for the Catholic Foundation, is the man behind Prayer in the Square, a new initiative that aims to renew devotion to the rosary.

Perry’s grandmother inspired his love for the rosary, praying it every day. He even attributes the rosary to saving lives in his family, as he was cured of rheumatic fever and sister from polio under their grandmother’s care.

Perry became determined to spread the devotion by simply giving away rosaries. To date, he estimates he has handed out over 25,000 rosaries to parishes throughout Northern Colorado. Then he read a book about rosary rallies and was inspired to make the devotion even more public.

“I read about rosary rallies and thought we should resurrect them,” Perry said. “If they can get a million people downtown for the Bronco’s game, why shouldn’t we be able to do it?”

Perry approached Catholic Charities CEO Larry Smith with his idea.

“The whole point of Prayer in the Square is to bring people of good will into public spaces to pray for the innocents who are being killed around the world,” Smith said.

While Prayer in the Square events have taken place around the archdiocese for months, a large one will take place at the Capitol in downtown Denver on April 2. Those present will pray a rosary and a Divine Mercy chaplet, alternating between English and Spanish.

“I’m looking forward to the sight of a bunch of people, many of them kneeling, getting people’s attention,” Perry said.

Prayer in the Square will focus on praying for all the innocents being slaughtered around the world, with a special emphasis on Christians in the Middle East and the unborn.

“We want to get as many people to pray for life as we can. We want to honor life and Mary,” Smith said.

Perry said that the Capitol made logistical sense, as it can hold many people. He said the location is also optimal because of its visibility and frequently used symbolism.

“I see all those other rallies for all these various causes, and none of them include God, or very few,” Perry said. “Our country needs the prayers. I’m hoping the participants experience something like Lourdes or Fatima—just an overwhelming sense of peace.”

For more information, visit http://prayerinthesquare.com.

COMING UP: Father Jan Mucha remembered for his ‘joy and simplicity’

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When Father Marek Ciesla was 11 years old, he encountered a priest in his hometown in northern Poland who was visiting his parish on mission.

“I was impressed,” said Father Ciesla. “A couple of my friends and I were talking about how energetic, how wonderful this priest was. I think in this way he inspired us a little bit to follow the call to the priesthood.”

The priest was Father Jan Mucha, and little did Father Ciesla know that decades later and an ocean away, he would reunite with the man that inspired him and his friend to pursue the priesthood.

In 2010 when Father Mucha was retiring from his role as pastor of St. Joseph Polish Catholic Church in Denver, Father Ciesla was sent from Poland to the Archdiocese of Denver to take his place.

The priests spent two days together, and Father Ciesla was struck by the familiarity of Father Mucha.

“For some reason, the way he was talking and the words he was using, something rang a bell,” he said. “I asked him if he remembers visiting my parish. And he said, ‘Oh, yeah, I had it on my list. I remember.’”

Father Ciesla was amazed that the man he was there to replace was the same one who had impacted his life all those years ago.

“God works in mysterious ways,” said Father Ciesla. “I never thought I would meet him again.”

Father Mucha passed away March 21 after serving the archdiocese for 40 years. He was 88 years old.

Father Mucha was born March 16, 1930 in Gron, Poland to parents Kazimierz and Aniela Mucha. He was one of five children. Father Mucha attended high school in Kraków and went on to study philosophy and theology at a seminary in Tarnów.

Father Mucha was ordained December 19, 1954 in Tarnów by Auxiliary Bishop Karol Pękala. He served at St. Theresa Parish in Lublin, Sacred Heart Parish in Florynka and as a Latin teacher at Sacred Heart Novice House in Mszana Dolna.

He was incardinated into the Archdiocese of Denver on April 20, 1978. Before he was granted retirement status in August of 2010, he served at St. Joseph Polish for nearly 40 years.

“Father Mucha was dedicated to his people and there was a joy about him,” said Msgr. Bernard Schmitz, who had known Father Mucha since his own ordination in 1974 and more recently within his former role as Vicar for Clergy.

“I admired his joy and simplicity,” said Msgr. Schmitz. “He seemed to have no guile and what you saw is what you got. He was very proud of his Polish heritage and was unafraid to be Polish.”

Father Mucha’s move to the United States came about after he visited St. Joseph Polish while on vacation. The pastor at the time was sick, and parishioners asked Father Mucha to stay.

After receiving approval from his superiors in Poland and the archbishop in Denver, Father Mucha did stay, and ended up serving the parish for nearly four decades.

“He was happy to serve here,” said Father Ciesla. “All the time, he was a man of faith. He kept his eye on Jesus.”

Msgr. Schmitz believes Father Mucha’s faithfulness and tenacity as a priest will leave a lasting impression on those he served.

“He was dedicated to the priesthood and didn’t want to retire until he was sure his people would be well taken care of,” said Msgr. Schmitz. “He could come across as tough, but really he was a compassionate person [with] a heart open to the Lord’s work.”