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The First Rosary Bowl in Toronto

by Dr. Rodica Mera, retired TCDSB Teacher

 
On October 19, 2019, a colourful and heart-warming fall day in the Bluffs, Cardinal Newman Catholic High School opened its doors to pilgrims who came from all over the GTA for a special inaugural event called the Rosary Bowl initiated by Dennis and Angelina Girard and sponsored by the Toronto Catholic District School Board.
 
The Rosary Bowl event started with a Mass celebrated in the beautiful school chapel which brought together children and adults in a spirit of genuine childlike abandonment to joy.  The impressive children’s choir set the tone.  Later the adults joined in the children’s activities, making rosaries and preparing for the “Rosary Bridge”, the procession with candles (battery operated) and Holy Water sprinklers. To my surprise, the many children were surrounded by as many adults curious to learn how to make rosaries.  A really enthusiastic atmosphere. 
 
The actual event included the recitation of the Rosary on the stage of the huge school auditorium. The Rosary was led by children who, in turn would read the intentions while the adults would take over engaging the audience in the prayers and meditation to our Lady. It was indeed a beautiful and peaceful unfolding of the events in our Lord`s life in the majestic presence of His Mother who was represented by the statue the Lady of the Cape (above).  Thank you Joanne and Julia Alfonso for the beautiful pictures taken.
 
Right after, the Cape Kids Drama Club presented a skit that explained the history of the miraculous Bridge of Rosaries that made possible the actual building of the Sanctuaire Notre~Dame~du~Cap (Our Lady of the Cape) Shrine, as Canada’s National Shrine to Our Blessed Mother and the most important Marian Shrine in Canada.   In the re-enactment skit, the parish priest first prayed to Mother Mary to bring the villagers to Mass. The response to his prayers was so overwhelming that the priest started praying for a new church to make room for all the attending parishioners.  Yet to build anything on that site required transporting massive stones for construction from across the river.  In 1879 though, the winter was particularly mild and the St. Lawrence River did not freeze over but was stubbornly flowing with crystal clear waters.  It was already March and still no trace of ice.  The parishioners once again turned to Mother Mary for help.  Together with their pastor, they started praying the rosary asking for the Blessed Mother’s intercession for solid ice to form on the river.  Miraculously, in the middle of March, Our Lady of the Rosary delivered the needed miracle!  Thin pieces of ice floated down the river from Lake St-Pierre, 32 km. away and stopped parallel to Cap-de-la-Madeleine.  Father Louis-Eugene Duguay, the vicar of the parish and a few parishioners worked dangerously for two days and nights on these thin pieces of ice; by pouring water over them to thicken them, and also working with the snow that was falling heavily; they were able to convert this thin ice into a narrow mile-and-a-half long ice path.This Ice Bridge miracle, commonly called the Rosary Bridge, as it resulted from praying the Rosary, stayed on the Saint-Lawrence River for a solid week, from the feast of Saint Joseph to the feast of the Annunciation, long enough for the necessary stones and building materials to be hauled on horse-drawn sleds.  During this time, the Saint- Lawrence River remained wide open with very cold water on both sides of this ice path.  What is now known as the Bridge of Roses refers to the roadway of ice across the St. Lawrence River that was the answer to their prayers.
 
The Cape Kids Drama construction workers on stage had very creative and realistic props. They used horse-drawn wagons that were carrying little carts with huge cardboard stones. Each actor would lift and place a stone at the foot of the Madonna with gestures of reverence and gratitude.   It was indeed a short but powerful re-enactment drama that received a standing ovation from the audience.
 
Keynote speaker Fr. Roger Vandenakker C.C., also spoke about our Lady of the Cape and her maternal role in our life.  His inspiring heart-felt speech made us really feel like children again, children of a most loving Mother and a most powerful Father (Abba).             
Childlike love, trust, innocence was the message of the prayerful gathering in honour of the Mother of God.  A most wonderful experience and a powerful reminder of our own sense of identity.  
 
Then there was the call to the enrolment in the Confraternity of the Most Holy Rosary, the best way to unite in prayer with the Worldwide Rosary Club (Rosary Confraternity). 
 
And finally a huge” Thank You” to our Trustees Garry Tanuan and Nancy Crawford for making this event a reality for our students and parents.
 
For more information, visit the website:  www.rosarybowl.com