Austin Rosary Crusade celebrates 40th anniversary
By Enedelia J. Obregón
When Ignacio Moreno led a rosary for about 20 couples 40 years ago, little did he know it was the beginning of the Rosary Crusade.
To mark the anniversary, Moreno, 81, led the faithful in a conference at St. Ignatius Parish in Austin in late March that included talks on growing in faith, evangelization, a healing service, the sacrament of penance and praying the rosary.
Matachines led the colorful procession to the church for Mass celebrated by Auxiliary Bishop Danny Garcia, who remembered Moreno coming to his hometown of Cameron to meet his grandmother and aunt to start a rosary crusade there.
“Thank you for continuing to gather,” he said. “I hope you continue inviting others to join.”
The first gathering on Jan. 18, 1975, began when a lady with the Marriage Encounter group at Dolores Parish in Austin invited Moreno to speak to the group. They squeezed into a small home after moving the living room furniture outdoors.
“This was not planned at all,” said Moreno, who with his wife, Tommie, is a parishioner at St. Mary’s Cathedral. “It was all the inspiration of our Blessed Mother and the Holy Spirit.”
The couples, who met every Saturday at different homes kept inviting him back.
“We are the only ones left of the original group,” said Tommie Moreno, who will be 81 this summer. “My husband said he will never give this up even if it’s only us.”
There are now 37 Rosary Crusade groups throughout the Diocese of Austin and as far away as Falfurrias in the Diocese of Corpus Christi.
The Rosary Crusade attracts mainly Hispanic faithful, so prayers and talks are in Spanish. Juanita and Rudy Lara, parishioners at Santa Cruz Parish in Buda for 38 years, said the Rosary Crusade helps bring people to church and to God.
“People need to understand that it’s important to take their families to church and learn about God,” Juanita Lara said. “They can live their lives better. When you get close to God to serve him you learn to love and serve others.”
Yessenia González, a parishioner at St. Ignatius, brought her son, 7, and daughter, 5.
“I want them to learn about and follow the right path of God,” she said.
Moreno said that the rosary is used as a tool to evangelize and bring people to church and the sacraments. They do this by going into their homes.
“We take church to the neighborhood,” he said. “We pray for families, for vocations, at hospitals for the sick and at wake services ...”
At the conference, Deacon Guadalupe Rodríguez reminded the participants that only personal encounter with Christ will save us. And “we are called to invite” others to Christ as well, he said.
We evangelize to others by first changing our mentality, or way of thinking, and by not judging. We must respect the cultural religiosity of people we encounter, he said.
Deacon Rodríguez paraphrased Pope Francis, who has said he prefers a church “which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security.”
Another Rosary Crusade leader, Sergio Acosta, a parishioner at St. Mary’s Cathedral, said we have to become witnesses to Christ’s salvation and not be afraid of what others say.
Some people may feel they don’t have the knowledge or education to evangelize, he said. All we need to do is look at San Juan Diego, a poor Indian to whom the Blessed Mother appeared in what is now Mexico City in 1531. The Blessed Mother chose him to carry the message of salvation to others.
“When you feel incapable of evangelizing think of Juan Diego,” he said. “You are Juan Diego.”
The Rosary Crusade holds its biannual conferences on the Saturdays closest to the Annunciation of the Lord and the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The next conference will be Aug. 15 at St. Ignatius Parish in Austin. For more information, contact Ignacio Moreno at (512) 443-4111.