.- Rosary for the Bishop, an online prayer campaign for Catholic bishops, has launched a new website to enroll participants and help remind them to pray.
The site, www.RosaryForTheBishop.org, opened on January 1, 2010.
The campaign was begun during Christmas of 2005 as a gift for Bishop of Madison, Wisconsin Robert Morlino. The year 2005 was difficult for the prelate, whose cathedral was destroyed by arson that year.
"We thought the good Bishop could use some prayers and encouragement," said Syte Reitz, a Madison-area Catholic.
Reitz collected about 30 prayer pledges from friends at an October meeting of the Madison Catholic Women’s Club. The pledges were presented to Bishop Morlino in a Christmas card thanking him for his work.
Reitz’s son Tom, a computer student, offered to make a website where people could sign up online. He had just begun to learn about the power of the internet as an “evangelization tool.”
The website attracted over 150 participants by Christmas 2005. By Christmas 2008 the campaign had over 300 participants from about 50 parishes throughout the diocese.
"This year, we wanted to make another Rosary for the Bishop campaign for Bishop Walker Nickless of the Diocese of Sioux City, Iowa. We quickly realized that with only a bit of additional work, we could make Rosary for the Bishop available for all US bishops,” Tom Reitz reported.
His web development company now oversees the website.
Rosary for the Bishop was inspired by a passage from Exodus 17, which tells how Aaron and Hur held up Moses’ hands during battle.
“We need to support our Bishops' hands so that they do not weary in the battle for the faith. Many Catholics pray the Rosary every day. Why not pray one for our bishops?” Syte Reitz suggested. “They are our shepherds, and their job is not easy. They need and deserve our prayers."
Speaking to CNA in a Wednesday e-mail, Reitz said that the bishops have a difficult job of teaching “the unpopular truth of Jesus Christ.”
“As Catholics, it is our responsibility to obey and support our shepherds. One of the best ways to support a Bishop is to pray for him, and that's the goal of Rosary for the Bishop. We took the effort online in order to reach the many Internet users around the country, especially young people.”
Response to the effort has been “tremendous,” he reported, with over 400 people now praying for 68 bishops. Several bishops have also expressed their appreciation for the site.
“I think we Catholics need to be unafraid to explore and new technologies like the Web, and to use them to further Christ's work on Earth,” Reitz told CNA.
Participants can sign up for the campaign at http://www.RosaryForTheBishop.org/join.