.- Thursday, July 1, marks six months since the inauguration of the Rosary for the Bishop campaign, an online website that encourages the faithful to pray for bishops across the U.S. and around the world.
The prayer campaign began in 2005 in Madison, Wisconsin, where an online effort was made to collect prayers for Bishop Robert Morlino of the Diocese of Madison. On January 1, 2010, the project was expanded to include all U.S. bishops, and it has since grown to incorporate those from other countries as well.
"At the beginning of 2010, we launched Rosary for the Bishop for all U.S. bishops," said Tom Reitz, one of the website's administrators. Since then, the campaign has grown in response to visitor feedback.
"We kept getting emails from people saying 'can you please add the bishops of my country?' So we did,â Reitz said. âNow the service is available for bishops in the U.S., U.K., Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Gibraltar, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Canada."
Since its inception, membership has risen to more than 800 participants from 45 U.S .states and 10 other countries. So far, the website has recorded 28,000 Rosaries prayed for more 250 Catholic bishops.
On the campaign website, www.RosaryForTheBishop.org, visitors can commit to a weekly or monthly Rosary for any bishop. The website features anonymous statistics on how many Rosaries have been prayed, as well as a Google map marking the locations of participating dioceses. Participants also have the option to receive reminder emails.
"Rosary for the Bishop is a growing, evolving program," explained Reitz. "We keep adding new features to the site, especially features that members have suggested." In recent months, the site has added a blog, Facebook "like" buttons and more detailed options for prayer reminders. More features are planned for the future.
Several bishops have expressed appreciation for the program.
"Rosary for the Bishop is a special blessing and source of encouragement for me," said Bishop R. Walker Nickless of Sioux City, Iowa.
"It gives me great serenity to know that so many men and women are turning to Mary, asking her special care and intercession for the bishops," added Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison.
Syte Reitz, one of the campaign's founders, explained that the program was originally inspired by âthe Exodus passage (17:11) in which Aaron and Hur help Moses to keep his hands lifted up in prayer so that Israel would be victorious.â
"Heaven knows that our good bishops are under fire for standing up for our Catholic Faith nowadays,â he said. âWhat can we do about it? Support them with our prayers!"