For the first three Wednesdays of Advent, Bishop James Wall will be leading the praying of the Rosary with the intention of healing for those affected by sexual abuse.

The rosaries will take place at Sacred Heart Retreat Center, to the south of Gallup.

Sr. Rene Backe, director of the retreat center, says she believes the idea to hold the Rosaries was inspired by the Holy Spirit. “I just happened to be listening that day”, she adds.

Although the Diocese is undergoing Chapter 11 reorganization in an effort to care for the emotional needs of victims of abuse, Sr. Rene wanted to make an effort to cover their spiritual needs as well.

“Abuse of a child is a physical, emotional and spiritual action. Money itself cannot heal those wounds. Money can help pay for counseling for emotional healing,” Sr. Rene said. “I liken it to Herod’s massacre of the innocents. This is the massacre of innocence in children. Prayer is a spiritual remedy necessary for spiritual healing. St. James says in his letter: “Is anyone among you sick? (wounded) He should summon the presbyters and they should pray over him…and the prayer of faith will save the sick person.” (James 5:14-15) Many times the abused cannot pray for themselves; perhaps they have lost faith in the spiritual power of prayer. As co-members with them of the Mystical Body of Christ, we must pray for them. Our prayers with faith can strengthen them to rise up from their woundedness and go on, remembering that Jesus said he came to bring us life in abundance. Jesus also said that certain demons can only be cast out by prayer and fasting.”

During Lent of 2014, Sr. Rene had asked Bishop Wall for permission to pray the Stations of the Cross at the Retreat Center on behalf of abuse victims, and was happy when he not only agreed, but offered to lead the Stations himself. For Advent, Sr. Rene approached the Bishop once again, and this time they settled on the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary. The Joyful Mysteries, she feels, tie the innocence and suffering of the victims of sexual abuse to the innocence and suffering of Christ.

“The Feast of Christmas commemorates the coming of God’s Son, Jesus, into our world and into our lives. As we focus our attention on Jesus, God’s precious Son, let us also remember the precious sons and daughters who were abused and molested by priests. These children were precious to their parents, just as Christ is precious to His Father and mother. Like Christ, they were innocent but suffered violence at the hands of other human beings.”

Sr. Rene hopes that the praying of the Rosaries will also remind Catholics of the suffering of abuse victims in a season when charitable acts tend to experience an upswing.

“I have learned that the people of the US are very generous in helping those who are in trouble. They send lots of money, food, clothing, blankets, tents, whatever is needed in a disaster,” she said. “I believe that when we help others, we ourselves are also helped, especially to become more compassionate and thus more like our God. This praying of the Rosary every Wednesday is a sacrifice of some time on our part, but it is an expression of love and care for others.”

Finally, and perhaps most important of all, she hopes that abuse victims understand that they are still loved.

“I hope that those who have been abused will hear of the news that people are praying for them, that people do care about them and want them to be healed. I want them to know that they are precious persons and are dearly loved by God and that God wants them to be healed and whole again.”

The schedule for the Rosaries is as follows: December 3rd, 10th, and 17th at 6:00 pm at the Sacred Heart Retreat Center Chapel. Those who are unable to attend in person are encouraged to pray the Rosary for the intention of healing for sexual abuse victims on their own schedule.

Featured Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons