Bishop Joseph E. Strickland is calling on the clergy, religious, and lay faithful of the Diocese of Tyler to pray a 54-day Rosary Novena in support of his vision for a teaching diocese.

The Novena will begin on Aug. 15, the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and continue until Oct. 7, the Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary.

“I recently outlined in my Constitution for Teaching the Catholic Faith a bold new vision for catechesis and evangelization in the Diocese of Tyler. My earnest hope is that we as a Diocese more boldly and effectively proclaim our faith in Jesus Christ and in the teachings of his Church. But for our efforts to bear fruit we must begin with prayer,” said Bishop Strickland. “Therefore, I invite all the people of the diocese to join me in praying a 54-Day Rosary Novena asking our Lady’s intercession for the Diocese of Tyler to become an outstanding teaching diocese in the service of the Lord.”

Continued Bishop Strickland, “Even if you’ve never prayed a Novena, even if you’ve never prayed the Rosary or don’t even own one, don’t worry. On the facing page are instructions and a printed Rosary you can use to get started. On the back page is a calendar to follow. As a family, we can do this!”

The term “novena” comes from the Latin word for nine (novem) and consists of set prayers offered every day for nine consecutive days for a specific intention. Praying a novena is a devotional practice with a long history in the Church. Many believe that it is patterned after the nine days of sustained prayer made by the apostles, Mary, and the holy women in the upper room in Jerusalem, before experiencing on the tenth day the powerful outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost: All these devoted themselves with one accord to prayer, together with some women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers (Acts 1:14). Christ himself praises persistent prayer because it is a sign of our faith in the goodness of God who provides for all our needs: And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you(Luke 11:9).

While most novenas last nine days, the 54-Day Rosary Novena consists of praying three novenas of the daily Rosary in petition for the first 27 days, followed immediately by praying three novenas of the daily Rosary in thanksgiving during the second 27 days, for a grand total of six Rosary novenas over the course of 54 days.

The 54-Day Rosary Novena is sometimes called “miraculous” because so often God rewards the faithfulness of its devotees with remarkable results. The 54-Day Rosary Novena originates in 1884 with a young Italian girl named Fortuna Agrelli who suffered an incurable disease that her doctors said was a hopeless case. Fortuna and her family in their desperation began to pray a novena of Rosaries to Our Lady of Pompeii for her healing. Our Lady appeared to Fortuna, told her she was the Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, and asked her to pray three Rosary novenas of petition and three Rosary novenas in thanksgiving for her healing. Fortuna and her family followed our Lady’s instructions, and she was miraculously cured. From there the devotion of praying the 54-Day Rosary Novena for an outpouring of special graces spread throughout the world.

2017 also marks the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of our Lady to three young shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal, in 1917. The Blessed Virgin Mary in each apparition asked the children to pray the Rosary every day and to spread this urgent message of praying the daily Rosary to the entire world. During her final appearance on October 13, Our Lady told the children, “I am the Lady of the Rosary. Continue always to pray the Rosary every day.”

The Diocese of Tyler is highlight the message of Fatima in a variety of ways this year, including Bishop Strickland’s consecration of the Diocese to the Immaculate Heart of Mary at the annual diocesan Marian Conference on May 13, hosting the pilgrim statue of Our Lady of Fatima in five parishes in our diocese from July 21–27, and giving a series of talks on Fatima in some of our parishes.

“Our 54-Day Rosary Novena, however, is the specific way I have chosen for our Diocese to answer the Blessed Virgin Mary’s urgent call at Fatima to pray the Rosary every day,” said Bishop Strickland. “After our 54-Day Rosary Novena concludes on the Feast of the Holy Rosary on October 7, our focus on Fatima will culminate with a special Mass at the Cathedral on Friday, October 13, the anniversary date of Our Lady’s final appearance at Fatima, celebrated by me and the priests of the Diocese.”

“I am filled with gratitude for all your prayers, support, and good works in our wonderful Diocese. I also thank you for making a commitment to join me in praying this 54-Day Rosary Novena for an outpouring of grace upon our Diocese to become an outstanding teaching diocese in service to the Lord. I cannot wait to see the tremendous graces God will surely pour out upon our Diocese through Our Lady’s intercession!” Bishop Strickland said.