It was a brisk, windy day on October 15 when I ventured out to participate in a Public Square Rosary Rally to pray for supernatural solutions to America’s problems. My particular rally was in the small borough of New Oxford in Pennsylvania. The central square serves as a roundabout for two intersecting highways. The traffic was heavy, and everyone could see our large banner announcing our intention to pray for America.
This visibility was precisely our intention. We wanted to be seen by as many people as possible to highlight the message that the nation needs prayer. The event was part of the Public Square Rosary Rally campaign, an America Needs Fatima project that has held ever-growing numbers of these rallies since 2007.
We were comforted by the fact that our rally was one of 21,544 rallies nationwide. As we set up, others were doing the same thing at public squares, busy intersections and public parks everywhere. There were big and small rallies, elaborate programs and simple ones. The ANF map indicated there was another rally some five miles away. Each rally captain organized the rally according to the means at hand. Everyone could be assured that Our Lady was honored by any effort, no matter how small.
Our particular rally had ten people, and I was told the group holds a similar rally on the second Saturday of every month at the location. Thus, the rally veterans knew what to do and had everything very well organized. Normally, I go to the Tradition, Family Property flagship rally at Rockefeller Center, across from St. Patrick’s Cathedral, in New York City. That rally can have hundreds of people present. I was curious to experience a small one.
There was a different dynamic at this rally. This town is part of rural America and lacked the hustle and bustle of Fifth Avenue and its massive crowds. It was also a little less liberal. Most of those witnessing the rally were in cars on the major highway that channels around the square.
We immediately got some signs of approval—honks, thumbs up or waves from passing cars. I imagine some people experienced relief at seeing this public witness. It is an unexpected sight in our decadent and secular times. It should encourage all those who grieve for America.
However, most people in the passing cars showed indifference to this extraordinary scene. They could not help but notice the rally, but their thoughts seemed lost in the ordinary cares of the day. Some pretended not to see. This segment of the public is tragic since they have yet to turn to God to help solve the many problems that certainly burden them. Perhaps our prayer and public witness on that brisk autumn day planted a seed in some minds that might later sprout.
Of course, some were against the rally. However, these were few and not vocal. A few gestures and waves of disapproval could be observed here or there. However, the negative reactions were not nearly like those found in big cities where even counter-protests of rabid atheists might arise.
We had no illusions that this small village was immune to the crisis that afflicts and polarizes America. At a building to the right of the rally, there was a Black Lives Matter flag waving. Some tattooed Goth pedestrians dressed in black looked on from afar with evident disapproval. A certain tension in the air reflects the uncertainty, instability and lack of direction of the current political climate.
In the midst of it all, we brave ten prayed the rosary loudly and proudly in union with the 21,543 other rallies around the country. We felt part of a growing reaction against the moral crisis in America. We were under Our Lady’s protection. I had the conviction we were making history on that small public square in rural Pennsylvania.