Fr. Tim Furlow, pastor at St. Patrick Parish in Northwest Portland, blesses brown scapulars as part of the Marian Conference at Holy Rosary Parish in Northeast Portland. (Courtesy Brenda Schwartz)
Fr. Tim Furlow, pastor at St. Patrick Parish in Northwest Portland, blesses brown scapulars as part of the Marian Conference at Holy Rosary Parish in Northeast Portland. (Courtesy Brenda Schwartz)

Before Archbishop Alexander Sample celebrated Mass for the second annual Marian Conference at Holy Rosary Parish, faithful waited for confession in a line that stretched around the church.

“That just said a lot to me about the people who went,” said Carolyn Rich, youth minister at Immaculate Conception Parish in Stayton.

Nearly 300 people showed up for the July 13 conference, which included talks, confession, Mass, a brown scapular enrollment, rosary and  angelus.

“If I had to sum it up in one word, I’d say joyful,” said Brenda Schwartz, an organizer for the event.

People came from as far away as Shady Cove and Seattle to gather with other lovers of Mary.

From a planning perspective, Schwartz said it was clear that Mary was at the helm.

“Any gap that seemed to be there was just filled in beautifully,” she added.

The crowds were so engaged during the talks by Father Tim Furlow and Dominican Father Gabriel Mosher that Schwartz said there was complete silence.

Rich eagerly attended the event as a way to prepare for a Marian retreat she’ll be having in the fall for her youth group. She’s planning to have the youth consecrated to Mary in December and she aspires to have the entire Stayton parish community consecrated, as well.

“That was my reasoning for going,” she said.

The first talk by Father Furlow was on consecration to Mary. He discussed who Mary is and then broke down her different virtues and why she’s the ideal person to bring Christians to Jesus.

The whole Saturday event had a feeling of holiness, said Rich.

“When we had the scapulars being blessed, people were holding their brown scapulars and you could feel they truly were devout people who are seeking to be closer to our Lord,” she added.

Father Mosher’s talk to the attendees was on Our Lady of Fatima and the vision of hell.

“Participants at the Marian Conference were challenged to activate their faith in prayer, penance and loving service for the sake of those who are poor in spirit, as guided by the example and requests of the Blessed Virgin Mary,” said Father Mosher.

There was tremendous unity among the attendees, said Schwartz. The group was a mix of older and younger faithful and individuals from many different ethnic backgrounds.

“It was such a neat blend of people,” said Rich, adding that it represented the diversity of the Catholic Church.

Archbishop Sample expressed particular gratification in seeing so many youths involved in the conference.

“When I have a bad day, I think of you,” he said. There were at least 35 people under the age of 20 in attendance.

The event concluded with a chaplet of divine mercy.

“I left there with even more of a love for her and a devotion to her,” concluded Rich.

sarahw@catholicsentinel.org