Light and Life – Nov.-Dec. 2019, Vol 72, No 6 – A Publication of the Western Dominican Province
Many people have received the Rosary Center’s Newsletter, the Rosary, Light & Life for decades, which has included articles on various subjects related to the Rosary, the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Church and the Faith in general; however, they may not know fully about the apostolate of the Rosary Center or its history. The Rosary Center is a ministry of the Dominican Friars of the Western Province, and it serves as the headquarters of the Rosary Confraternity in the West. Our Mission is to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the conversion, sanctification and salvation of souls by promoting devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, especially through the preaching of her Rosary and the incorporation of its Mysteries into our lives. Our entire apostolate is placed under the care and guidance of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The Rosary Center is open every weekday and has a full-time staff of five people including a full-time priest who is the Director of the Rosary Center and also the Promoter of the Rosary Confraternity. We are blessed to own our own building with its little Blessed Sacrament chapel—although both desperately need repairs. Each day we support various ministries of the Church throughout the world, including prison outreach, military chaplains and overseas missions by shipping rosaries, books and pamphlets (e.g., our leaflet, “Pray the Rosary Daily”).
Our staff prays regularly for all those who request our prayers. In our chapel, each morning at Mass, and in our afternoon Rosary, we pray for the members of the Confraternity (living and deceased) and for the success and needs of our apostolate. We accept prayer requests via our website, email, physical mail, and also by phone, and place them in a basket in front of the altar in our chapel. Every two months, the Rosary Center offers a Novena of Masses in honor of special feasts, and in November we celebrate a 30-day Mass Novena for the faithful departed. People can join us in these novena prayers which are found online at our website (rosarycenter.org) or in a leaflet that can be sent to them in the mail.
The Rosary Confraternity is the heart and soul of the Rosary Center. We consider ourselves advocates for its members. The Confraternity is a spiritual association of the Catholic Church, under the care and guidance of the Dominican Order, whose members honor the Blessed Virgin Mary and place themselves under her protection by the praying of the Rosary. We actively enroll new members in the Confraternity on a daily basis.
Through the preaching of Bl. Alan de la Roche, the Rosary Confraternity blossomed in the 15th Century. Under his influence, enrollment in the Confraternity became world-wide. By his death in 1475, he had brought in over 100,000 members to the Confraternity; by 1479, 500,000 had registered. In the Confraternity’s first printed manual in 1476, enrollment in the association was a condition of membership, as well as praying fifteen mysteries of the Rosary per week—as it remains today.1 Today there are at least 1,000,000 living members in the Rosary Confraternity.
In 1898, Pope Leo XIII decreed that the Rosary Confraternity would be placed formally under the authority of the Master of the Dominican Order. Thus, no Rosary Confraternity can be erected without his approval nor can any benefits, privileges or indulgences be received without the permission of the Master of the Order.2
There are many benefits to being a member of the Rosary Confraternity. Members gain the special protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary and share in the prayers and works of millions of Confraternity members throughout the world (even after death), in the prayers, Masses and apostolic works of the entire Order of Preachers, and in the numerous indulgences granted to the Confraternity. Moreover, promoting devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Rosary, along with praying the Rosary, helps the faithful grow in their love of God and the Church, and in their faith in Jesus Christ.
The Rosary Center began in the old parish hall of St. Dominic’s Church in San Francisco in 1945. At the time, in most Dominican parishes there was a public recitation of the Rosary. Fr. Paul Duffner, OP and Fr. Edward Sanguinetti, OP were both interested in the propagation of this devotion, and thus began a weekly service every Saturday evening consisting of the recitation of the Rosary, a brief homily, and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.
There were three distinct Rosary associations in the parish at the time: the Living Rosary, the Perpetual Rosary, and the Rosary Confraternity. The Living Rosary had been established in three groups consisting of fifteen people each in different parishes in San Francisco, one of them being St. Dominic’s. Thus, in each group each person recited one mystery of the Rosary, so that between all of them the full fifteen mysteries of the Rosary were recited each day. The Perpetual Rosary obligated each of its members to pray the Rosary for a given hour each month so that the Rosary is recited perpetually day and night. The Rosary Confraternity required that its members pray the fifteen mysteries once each week.
Fr. Duffner took over the task of managing the three different groups of the Living Rosary, but found them unwieldly, and thus conceived the idea of uniting these three groups into one center—thus the Rosary Center was born. Further, when the task of organizing the three associations of the Living Rosary, the Perpetual Rosary and the Rosary Confraternity became unmanageable, the Perpetual Rosary was discontinued as the cloistered nuns were fulfilling its obligations, while the Living Rosary was also suspended. That left the Rosary Center to fully concentrate on the Rosary Confraternity.
While the Living Rosary was still in existence, Fr. Duffner had assumed the responsibility of mailing to individuals in the Living Rosary a reflection for the rosary decades that were assigned to each participant. With the efforts now being directed toward the promotion of the Rosary Confraternity, Fr. Duffner began sending a far more substantial newsletter called The Rosary Bulletin, which focused on the teachings of the Church. This title was later changed by Fr. Thomas Feucht, OP to The Rosary, Light & Life.
In 1970, Fr. Feucht, then the director of the Rosary Center, was elected prior of the Dominican Community of Holy Rosary in Portland, Oregon. Fr. Feucht agreed to move the Rosary Center to Portland if he could continue as its director. Thus, he brought the mailing equipment up from San Francisco to Portland. A room in the basement of the old Priory was established as their base of operations.
Fr. Joseph Agius, OP succeeded Fr. Feucht as director of the Rosary Center around 1980. Fr Duffner, who was the pastor of Holy Rosary Church at the time, strongly encouraged and assisted Fr. Agius in acquiring the property on 1331 NE 3rd Avenue in Portland for the new location of the Rosary Center, where it remains to this day. Fr. Duffner was assigned to Alaska from 1981 to 1983; however, upon his return, he was re-assigned as director of the Rosary Center and promoter of the Rosary Confraternity. He would go on to write articles for the Light & Life Newsletter until 2000. Fr. Paul Raftery, OP was the author of the Newsletter from 2000-04. Fr. Reginald Martin, OP, who directed the Rosary Center for many years, also wrote articles regularly for the Newsletter from 2004 until 2016. Fr. Dismas Sayre, OP served as director for one year until Fr. Joseph Sergott, OP took over in July of 2017; he has been the director since then.
The ministry of the Rosary Center in Portland has grown over the decades. Subscriptions to the Rosary Light & Life Newsletter are still numerous today with over 35,000 subscribers. The Light & Life is available on our web page at rosarycenter.org. It is also mobile friendly. The spiritual benefits and works of the Rosary Center and the Rosary Confraternity remain abundant. We have a dedicated staff who work tirelessly to spread our Catholic faith, to buoy the struggling, and to assist those who are looking to grow in their faith. We all feel blessed to be able to work here. We are like a family. The concerted effort to promote the Rosary Confraternity remains. Its members reap the prayers of a world-wide association that is active and in fact still growing. Without the grace of God, the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the financial backing of our loyal supporters, this apostolate would not be possible. May God bless our benefactors.
1 Robert Feeney, The Rosary, “The LIttle Summa” 4th ed., p. 49, Aquinas Press, 2003
2 Ubi Primum, #2, Pope Leo XIII, October 2, 1898
Dear faithful supporters of the Rosary Center & Confraternity, we are grateful for your support. We could not fulfill our Mission if not for our benefactors. After decades of constant use, the Rosary Center, the home of the Rosary Confraternity, is greatly in need of renovation. Please consider making a special gift to help make badly needed repairs, and to refurbish the offices, chapel and kitchen. Thank you for your generosity! Fr. Joseph Sergott, O.P., Director.