James Thurman, a parishioner at St. Stephen Parish in Portland, holds his rosary while praying during adoration during the Rosary Bowl. The event was held this year Oct. 6 at the Oregon State Fairgrounds pavilion in Salem. (Sarah Wolf/Catholic Sentinel)
James Thurman, a parishioner at St. Stephen Parish in Portland, holds his rosary while praying during adoration during the Rosary Bowl. The event was held this year Oct. 6 at the Oregon State Fairgrounds pavilion in Salem. (Sarah Wolf/Catholic Sentinel)
SALEM — “Hail Mary, full of Grace. The Lord is with thee.” The phrase is one often heard as part of the Hail Mary prayer and the rosary, but hundreds of people saying it in unison is rare. The beauty of the sound can be found at the Rosary Bowl held each fall in Salem.

Event goers gathered this year at the Oregon State Fairgrounds pavilion Oct. 6 for the all-day festivities, celebrated the same weekend each year as the feast day of holy rosary.

The day included confession, Mass celebrated by Archbishop Alexander Sample, adoration, praying of the rosary and the chaplet of divine mercy, as well as two talks presented by author Father Donald Calloway, a Marian of the Immaculate Conception priest.

Father Calloway went on to give an overview of the history of the rosary in the church and its context within world history. The tool, he said, has been one Satan has constantly been trying to destroy since it was given to St. Dominic.

Holding up his rosary, Father Calloway said, “What Satan sees is that I have a sword in my hand.”

“Satan hates Our Lady,” he added. “It’s her dainty feminine face that crushes his face.”

The virgin mother is often portrayed as stepping on a serpent, as is mentioned throughout the Bible and especially in the book of Revelation.

“He knows she has power. When she dishes weapons to her children, Satan knows this is going to be a problem,” said Father Calloway. “That’s why Satan hates this devotion.”

Father Calloway recounted tale after tale of historical event, showcasing the power of the rosary and Satan’s attempts at averting it.

As a young man, Efrain Razo came to the first Rosary Bowl held in Salem in 2007. It was his first year in Oregon. He saw the event advertised, and thought, “Who doesn’t love the rosary?” He loved it. At the time, Razo was a religious with the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit. Now, he’s a seminarian studying at Mount Angel Seminary.

“The rosary has been part of my life and part of my culture,” he said.

Razo’s mother instilled in his family a devotion to praying the rosary. Saying the prayer with so many more people is awe-inspiring.

“It’s a different presence,” said Razo. “There’s a different experience to it.”

The Rosary Bowl has gotten bigger and better every year, added Razo.

The event draws participants not just from the Archdiocese of Portland, however. It’s unique in the Northwest, so people come from all over the region. Rhonda and Jeff George make the journey from Castle Rock, Washington. The couple, members of St. Mary Parish in Castle Rock, have come to the event since its inception.

“We love the holy rosary,” said Rhonda, calling the day awesome. The Georges loved everything about the event but especially  the exposition of the Eucharist.

Toby Saalfeld, a parishioner at Sacred Heart Parish in Gervais, has been volunteering for the Rosary Bowl for years.

“Father Don Calloway is one of my favorite people,” said Saalfeld. “It’s always lovely to see the different priests from all over the archdiocese and visit them. Having confession right here is wonderful.”

“It brings all the people together,” said Saalfeld, adding that the event bring people from Portland to Eugene together in celebration of their faith. “You realize how the particular body of Christ that is the Archdiocese of Portland is all connected.”

sarahw@catholicsentinel.org