Parishes invited to host Silver Rose liturgy in tribute to Mary

Roxanne King

A rose made of Mexican silver to honor Our Lady of Guadalupe as patroness of the Americas and of the pro-life movement is currently on its way from Canada through the United States to arrive on Mary’s Dec. 12 feast day in Monterrey, Mexico. The Silver Rose pilgrimage, sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, will come through the Denver Archdiocese Aug. 1-18.

Parishes are invited to host the Silver Rose with a one-hour liturgy to increase devotion to Mary, respect for human life and the spiritual renewal of each nation. Local Knights councils will assist with organizing the liturgies. Everyone is invited to attend them.

“The Knight’s Silver Rose program honors Our Lady of Guadalupe and affirms dedication to the sanctity of human life,” said Stephen Sweeney, a Knight organizer of the event. “The prayer services include Liturgy of the Word, a rosary and consecration to Mary [of pro-life efforts].”

Some parishes also choose to celebrate a Mass, organizers said.

Our Lady of Guadalupe is an icon of the pro-life movement as her appearances to the peasant St. Juan Diego nearly 500 years ago in what is modern-day Mexico City ushered in the largest mass conversion of a people in the history of the Church from a religion that involved human sacrifice.

Dressed as an Aztec princess, Mary appeared to Juan Diego on Tepeyac Hill in December 1531 and asked him to tell the bishop of her desire for a church to be built where people could take their prayer requests for her intercession. The bishop, however, asked Juan for a sign to prove the request came from Mary. At Mary’s direction, Juan found a sign — roses not native to the land blooming from the frozen ground on Tepeyac Hill. After filling his cloak with them, Juan hurried to the bishop. Upon opening his cloak, the roses fell out and Juan and the bishop saw a more wondrous sign — an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe miraculously imprinted on the cloak. Convinced, the bishop built the church. The cloak bearing the image remains on view at the Guadalupe Shrine in Mexico City where it draws millions of pilgrims annually.

Every year, runners from villages across Mexico light torches at the Guadalupe Shrine in Mexico City and relay them to their home churches to arrive on Dec. 12. For the Silver Rose pilgrimage, instead of carrying a torch, Knights steward a silver rose to recall the miracle of Guadalupe and Mary’s promise of aid. The final destination of the silver rose is the Guadalupe Basilica in Monterrey, Mexico, where the Silver Rose program was initiated in 1960 by the Columbian Squires, youth group of the Knights of Columbus.

Since its inception, which started with a single live rose, the program has grown to relay eight silver roses, which take different routes from their March departure, half from cities in Canada, to their final destination.

“The routes cover several provinces in Canada and most U.S. states,” said JR White, a Knight organizer of the event.

In addition to promoting Marian devotion and the dignity of all human life, organizers said the pilgrimage embodies international brotherhood and builds unity among the Knights.

The Knights urge parishes interested in participating to contact them as soon as possible.

To host or find a Silver Rose liturgy or get more information about the Knights, contact Sweeney at 303-880-9820 or stephen.sweeney@archden.org or White at 303-330-6245 or wjr35000@juno.com.

Silver Rose Pilgrimage Host Locations

Date/Parish/City

August 3: St. Louis Catholic Parish (Englewood, CO)

August 4: Mother Cabrini Shrine (Golden, CO)

August 5: St. Jude Catholic Parish (Lakewood, CO)

August 6: Risen Christ Catholic Parish (Denver, CO)

August 8: Our Lady of the Pines Catholic Church (Conifer, CO)

August 9: St. Francis of Assasi Catholic Church (Castle Rock, CO) 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.

August 9: Immaculate Heart of Mary (Thornton, CO) Starting time: 6 p.m.

August 11: Holy Ghost Catholic Church (Denver, CO)

August 12: Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception (Denver)

August 13: Christ the King Catholic Church (Evergreen, CO)

August 15: Queen of Peace Catholic Parish (Aurora, CO)

August 16: St. Mary Catholic Parish (Littleton, CO)

August 17: Holy Cross Catholic Church (Thornton, CO)

 

COMING UP: Machebeuf basketball star traded success playing hoops for a solitary life of prayer

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Shelly Pennefather led the Bishop Machebeuf High School girls’ basketball team to victory in every game she played in. It was not surprising to her friends and classmates that she would go on to play college ball for Villanova and then play professionally in Japan. It was not even surprising that she would have a religious vocation.

What was surprising was the order she chose. In 1991, Shelly Pennefather drove to Alexandria, Va., where she entered the Monastery of the Poor Clares. She would become a cloistered nun, living a radical life that included going barefoot out of penance and poverty and praying all of the hours of the Divine Office, even at 12:30 a.m.

This also meant she would not see her family except for twice a year from behind a transparent screen. She would not hug them until 25 years after her profession.

“I was shocked that she chose a cloistered order,” said Annie Mcbournie, graduate of Machebeuf in 1984 and a friend of Pennefather’s. “I was not at all shocked that she chose a vocation.”

Her story was recently featured on ESPN, who recounted how Pennefather gave up being the highest-paid women’s basketball player in the world in 1991 to live a life in service to the Lord as a Poor Clare.

Pennefather took the name Sister Rose Marie of the Queen of Angels. This past June, Sister Rose Marie celebrated her 25th anniversary of her solemn profession: the long-awaited moment to greet her family from outside the screen, not to happen again for another 25 years.

Villanova teammates, friends, Machebeuf classmates, and family were all in attendance. She hugged her 78-year-old mom for what will probably be the last time.

Mcbournie was not able to make it but will visit Sister Rose Marie this fall. Since she’s kept up with her via letters, she is permitted to visit the monastery.

Pennefather attended Bishop Machebeuf High School in Denver from 1980 to 1983 before transferring for her senior year due to her dad’s military job. She left Machebeuf with a 70-0 record.

“Her entire high school career, she never lost a basketball game,” Mcbournie said.

Mcbournie was a cheerleader and friend of Sister Rose Marie in high school, but a deeper friendship began 10 years after graduation. Sister Rose Marie’s brother Dick called Mcbournie before World Youth Day in Denver in 1993 since Mcbournie was still in the area.

Sister Rose Marie had just joined the Poor Clares and Dick and McBournie met up and spoke about the mourning process the family was going through, McBournie said. Dick mentioned to her that they could write Sister Rose Marie as many letters as they wanted, and one day a year, on the Feast of the Epiphany, she could write back.

Shelly Pennefather, pictured here in this photo from the Archdiocese of Denver archives, always exuded a deep spiritual life, her former Bishop Machebeuf classmates said. (Photo by James Baca)

“From that year on, I have been writing her every year,” McBournie said. She gives Sister Rose Marie updates on life, pictures from their high school reunions, and prayer requests.

“I have witnessed her journey through these letters,” McBournie said.

When Sister Rose Marie’s dad passed away shortly after entering, she was not able to leave the monastery to go to the funeral. McBournie saw how difficult these sacrifices were for her, especially in the early years of her vocation. But the letters show Sister Rose Marie’s joy.

“The last 5 to 10 years, I could just see her say, ‘I’m so blessed to be able to do this’,” McBournie said. “She’s so joyful.”

A fellow Machebeuf classmate asked McBournie for Sister Rose Marie’s address in order to have a little fun. He sent her a $20 bill with a note saying he thought she could use a smoke and a bottle of wine.

Sister Rose Marie did not miss a beat and in her yearly letter, she responded, “I bought incense, and I drank from the chalice,” McBournie recounted.

Shelly Pennefather (#15) had a 70-0 record playing basketball for Bishop Machebeuf in the 1980s, and went on to play for Villanova and then professionally in Japan. (Photo courtesy of Villanova Athletics)

But this letter sparked a friendship. This classmate has continued to write letters and even attended the 25-anniversary jubilee.

“Her letters are still hilarious, still very sarcastic,” McBournie said.

She remembers Sister Rose Marie being reserved and quiet in high school, focused more on school and basketball than anything else. Her father was in the military and the family was very disciplined, but they had a good sense of humor and quick wit, McBournie said.
“Her spirituality permeated her existence from the time she was young,” McBournie said.

David Dominguez was a few years ahead of Sister Rose Marie at Machebeuf but remembers her discipline and her talent. He called himself her cheerleader.’

“If it was really tight, we would start yelling, ‘Shelly, Shelly!’” Dominguez said. “It was one of my favorite cheers.”

Dominguez exercised at the Air Force base gym where Sister Rose Marie would train and play basketball with her dad and brother.

“I knew she had incredible skills,” Dominguez said. “It was kind of magical to watch.”

Sister Rose Marie recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of her profession of vows with the Poor Clares. She was able to hug her friends and family for the first time in 25 years. ESPN was there to cover the occasion. (Photo courtesy of Mary Beth Bonacci)

Dominguez also knew she was different.

“She was living for a different purpose than everyone else,” he said.

Sister Rose Marie’s devotion and personality remain the same, though she has traded in her jersey for a habit.
Although Sister Rose Marie can only write one letter a year, and can seldom have visitors, her friendship and influence reach far beyond the monastery walls.

Mcbournie said that their yearly letters have brought them even closer than they were in high school.

“I look forward to her letter every year,” Mcbournie said.