Each October, we pause to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary with reverential respect. This respect may be observed by praying the rosary more often, even daily; the Feast of the Rosary is celebrated on Oct. 7.
Parishioners from the Diocese of Orlando can also venerate the Blessed Virgin Mary during the two-day Marian Congress, held Oct. 21-22. The third annual Marian Congress explores Marian devotions and will focus on the theme “The Role of Mary in our Faith,” with presentations in both English and Spanish.
“It is very important for the diocese, any diocese, to tell the life of Mary in the Church,” said Father Randy Soto, a renowned speaker and key note presenter at the Marian Congress.
“Mary was the closest person to Christ. If we are close to Mary, we can be closer to Christ,” Father Soto added.
The opening liturgy of the Marian Congress will be at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe, Oct. 21. A procession and rosary will begin at 6:30 p.m., followed by Mass at 7:30 p.m. The Marian Congress presentations begin at 8 a.m. Oct. 22 at Holy Redeemer Parish in Kissimmee; a $15 registration fee is required to attend, and includes breakfast, lunch and refreshments.
“The Marian Congress will nurture our faith and highlight the important role of our Blessed Mother in salvation history,” said Bishop John Noonan regarding the importance of this event.
Father Soto, who teaches at the Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis, Mo., will present two keynote addresses: “Mary in the Scriptures” and “Mary in the Life of the Church for the 3rd Millennium.” The first address will trace the origin of Mary’s name and vocation, using scripture from the Old and New Testament, including all four Gospels, while the second address will discuss Mary in today’s society, supported by Vatican II documents and remarks from Pope Benedict XVI.
“We don’t have much information from the Bible on Mary, but the occurrences are rich and help us understand the role of Mary in the church and our own spiritual lives,” Soto said. “Then, we can connect with her today, and see what she is saying today. We need to be open to the humanism and how Mary can be a help with our dialogue with other denominations and religions.”
Soto said parishioners should participate in the Marian Congress because Mary was the first missionary, or Christ-bearer, and all people are called to be Christ-bearers and missionaries of the faith.
“All Catholics should be able to give reasons for their faith,” Soto said. “This is a great opportunity to do that, as well as increase their knowledge of the life of Mary, and to express their communion with Bishop Noonan and all of those that work in the Diocese of Orlando, and overall, in the local church.
“We come together in worship, reflection and prayer, using the method of Lexio Divina (spiritual reading of sacred scriptures), which is very important for our spiritual growth,” Soto concluded. “In prayer, we talk to God, but in Lexio Divina, God speaks to us. That is the most important reason I can think for people to attend; he’ll tell us all about Mary.”
To register for the Marian Congress, click here.(https://www.orlandodiocese.org/mariancongress/registration.php)