STAMFORD—Every first Saturday of the month at Saint Gabriel Parish in Stamford, 30-40 devotees gather to pray 2000 Hail Marys between 6:00 am and 4:00 pm in the St. Philip Neri Chapel to “honor and praise the Immaculate Heart of Mary,” says coordinator, Tess Senerador of St. Gabriel’s.
Tess learned about the 2000 Hail Marys event “about six years ago,” she says. It was held every month in somebody’s home. As the years progressed and the threats of war and violence became more prevalent, she discerned a need to start this at her own parish. At first, she held the event at her home. After inviting her parish priest to one of the gatherings, they agreed to hold it at St. Gabriel’s, where it has been ever since late 2016.
Madeleine Terenzio has been attending the 2000 Hail Marys event for a year now. Her experience has had a profound effect upon her, so much so that she tries to return to the event monthly. She says “Tess is amazing. Being around her and the others gives me the incentive to be a better person.”
A recent day of prayer began at 6:00 am, and Mass was offered at 8:00 am by pastor, Fr. Liam Quinlan. The Hail Marys were prayed via “a special rosary that has one hundred beads,” says Senerador. This rosary was prayed twenty times, thus amounting to 2000 Hail Marys. Each rosary was prayed for a different petition, and the prayers covered “almost everything,” she says.
Terenzio can attest to the beautiful, prayerful environment that praying the rosaries creates. The “quiet, yet repetitive meditation and the people around you are wonderful,” she says. “Everyone is different in gender, color, ethnicities, shapes and sizes, yet we are all there for the same purpose. It really is so beautiful when someone starts praying in their comfortable language and we all respond in English. How universal can you get? So far, I have heard French, Italian and Spanish.”
Although a minimum of twenty people are needed to cover each rosary, Senerador says they usually have more people than they need, which is not a problem at all. Both men and women are welcome, and she hopes that many young people will continue to attend. “You can stay for a few minutes, an hour, a couple of hours or the whole time,” says Senerador. She is particularly moved by people who come for the first time, perhaps early in the morning, and then decide to come back later on in the day because they were so impressed.
Being surrounded by people praying together has provided a spiritual camaraderie for Terenzio. “It really puts into perspective for me that I can not do things on my own,” she says. “I need to let go, have faith and ask for help. Things in the world today are so uncertain. I don’t know what is in store for me, but I’m grateful for the people and friendships that I have made and certainly will never turn down the power of prayer.”