"For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."
These are the words Jesus spoke to his disciples in Matthew 18:20, and they're words Joan Kuter, a member of St. Maximilian Kolbe Parish in Wayne County, reflects upon often. And when those who gather in Jesus' name do so in a public place and openly proclaim their faith, their impact is even greater, Kuter recently opined to the Catholic Courier.
That's part of the reason Kuter is coordinating a rosary rally, which will take place Oct. 15 at noon in the parking lot of Church of the Epiphany, which is one of St. Maximilian Kolbe's three worship sites and is located at 105 W. Main St. in Sodus. The rally is part of a nationwide initiative promoted by the America Needs Fatima campaign, which opposes secularists who attempt to push God out of the public square. The campaign's goal is to have 7,000 rosary rallies simultaneously taking place across the country on Oct. 15. This annual initiative always takes place on the Saturday closest to Oct. 13, which is the date of Mary's last apparition to children in Fatima in 1917.
"Our goal is to counter the destructive secular agenda, asking God to guide every aspect of our society," according to a statement posted on the America Needs Fatima campaign's website, www.anf.org. "As human efforts have failed to solve America's key problems, we ask (the Lord's) immediate help for our nation's leadership. He will hear our prayers, especially if we pray the rosary of his Blessed Mother. Without prayer, and specifically the rosary, we will not find solutions to our nation's many problems."
Kuter first learned about the America Needs Fatima campaign in September 2010, when an e-mail from a friend contained a link to the campaign's website. Kuter visited the website and read about the rosary rallies planned for the next month.
"I thought, 'Oh, that's kind of neat. I can do that,'" she recalled.
Kuter registered online to become a rosary-rally captain and quickly planned her own rally, which was held in October 2010 at St. Mary of the Lake Church in Ontario, another of St. Maximilian Kolbe's worship sites. Approximately 20 people gathered at the church's outdoor Marian shrine, but bad weather forced them to move inside for the rally.
"This year I was thinking, 'Where can I go that's in public?'" Kuter said.
She first considered holding the rally at a Knights of Columbus facility in Webster, but she wasn't sure St. Maximilian Kolbe parishioners would make the drive there. Upon further consideration, the parking lot at Church of the Epiphany seemed to be the perfect choice.
"It's going to be in the parking lot that's in front of the parish center. If the weather is bad I'll just open up the garage door and people can stand inside the garage as we say the rosary," Kuter said.
This way participants will hopefully still be visible to passing traffic even if the weather does turn bad, she added. A 15-foot banner from the America Needs Fatima campaign will be on display near the participants and will help draw attention to the rally.
It's crucial for rally participants to be visible to the public so they don't look like they're hiding, Kuter said.
"It's important to let people know that America is in trouble and we need help, and this is what Our Lady said we can do to help ourselves," she said. "If we hide in a corner no one's going to see it or question it. If we get one person that questions it, maybe they'll start praying. That's my purpose."
The event is open to anyone interested, and participants can bring lawn chairs with them if they'd like to sit while they pray, she said. If people don't want to travel to Sodus for the rally, they can check the America Needs Fatima campaign's website to see if other rosary rallies will be held nearby, she added.
"If they can't be there for the rally, maybe they can pray the rosary at home or wherever they are," Kuter said, noting that people might want to invite friends to pray the rosary with them. "It makes a little more impression, I think."