I've been to a couple of May Day Rosary Processions at the Basilica in the past and there never seemed to be much of a crowd and the length of the procession was only a couple of blocks long on the north side of Dunwoody Boulevard. But times have changed.
A friend reminded me of the event yesterday and as the weather was nice (ed. comment: only the second decent day all Spring), I dashed down there this afternoon and was very pleasantly surprised by the turnout of 400 or more. [There was another Procession at the St Paul Cathedral, too.]
The length of the Procession was greatly extended. Starting in the parking lot of the Dunwoody Technical College, it moved along the south side of Dunwoody Boulevard, singing Marian hymns and praying the Rosary, then south along Hennepin/Lyndale Avenues to the fabulously expensive footbridge crossing to Loring Park, then meandering through the park to Maple & Harmon and then on to the Basilica entering via the front steps with Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus, who had led the way behind a processional crucifix, greeting us, accompanied by the wonderful Basilica bells. A Vietnamese group brought a statue of Our Lady of the Rosary that also greeted us as we entered.
This annual procession has always attracted more ethnic Catholics than your basic home-grown third generation Catholics. It was even more so this year. In addition to the large Vietnamese contingent, there were Hispanic, Native American, Nigerian, Polish, Arabic and who knows what other groups present. Minneapolis area parishes such as Holy Rosary's Holy Name Society, St Charles Borromeo, Sacred Heart (Robbinsdale) and some Vietnamese parishes brought their banners and some of their members. The Franciscan Brothers of Peace and the Immaculate Heart of Mary sisters from Nigeria who have a missionary mission here also were out in forces, along with some pastors.
Thank God for our Catholic immigrants. Their strong faith puts the rest of us to shame.
Inside the Basilica we were greeted by its co-rector, Father John Bauer (not the one who was ordained just last week, the one from Lumen Christi parish). We sang more hymns and said another rosary, this one with the Hail Marys in each decade in a different language: English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Polish and Arabic. In case you're wondering, this is how you say "Hail Mary" in Arabic: Assalamu 'Alayki ya Maryam! In Other Languages
We ended up with Father Bauer celebrating Benediction and giving a short homily on prayer in the home..
It was a great procession and I won't miss it next year. And I'll be sure to give it more publicity.
Sadly, I was the only blogger present. Cathy of Alexandria did present a written excuse ahead of time, though.