In 1950, in the early years of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union, rosary groups were being formed nationwide for the conversion of Russia.
One such “block rosary” group of men and women from All Saints Catholic Church in Algiers began gathering on Dec. 28 of that year in homes and has continued ever since.
“We’ve been saying the rosary every Thursday at 1 p.m.,” said Carmelite Lombard Goodreaux, 77, a surviving founding member. “We’re still praying for peace and the conversion of Russia.”
The block rosary celebrated its 61st anniversary Dec. 29 at All Saints Church by reciting the Joyful mysteries and praying for the sick, elderly, those in the service, peace in the world and to Venerable Henriette Delille, whose Sisters of Holy Family had taught for many years at the now-closed All Saints School. Several Holy Family nuns participated in the rosary.
The longevity of the group astounds younger family members.
“Who does anything for 60 years, especially coming together to pray,” said Melanie Goodreaux, a writer and teacher now living in New York City. The rosary is the way she connects with her mother, Carmelite. “They don’t miss, even for storms.”
Strong Catholic family ties
Carmelite Goodreaux comes from a family with a strong Catholic faith history, as do other members of the rosary group. There are about 10 active members of the block rosary who pray together weekly in homes. Many others, including the elderly and family members nationwide, pray on Thursday at the same time in their own homes. The oldest member is Louise Campbell, 91.
In addition to praying the rosary, this block rosary has a reputation for praying fervently for the sick, the jobless, the resolution of marital problems, those harmed by violence and other needs. Members are called frequently by those wanting to be added to their prayer list. In fact, about 20 minutes are spent each week just reading the names written on the prayer list.
“Once your name gets on the list, they announce it at the meeting,” Melanie Goodreaux said.
The prayers work, members said.
“We get calls saying how the sick have gotten better,” Carmelite Goodreaux said.
Members found the group in different ways. Some are related; some neighbors; others heard about it through All Saints Church. Georgiana Brunet, a 58-year member, said she became acquainted with the group through her mother-in-law who was first cousins with Carmelite Goodreaux’s father.
“It means so much to me,” Brunet said. “I love the Blessed Mother.”
Carmelite’s brother Rene, now 72, remembers his mother, Olga, bringing him to the block rosaries as a child. He’s been coming on his own with his wife, Rhoda, since he got out of the service more than 50 years ago.
“I pray the rosary daily; it is a part of me,” Rene Lombard said.
Betty Dixon, an All Saints parishioner who recently retired, just joined the group. Even though she has prayed her whole life, she said she has found solace praying with the group and made friends.
“I could tell you much about the power of prayer,” she said. “It relieves you. When people are suffering it helps heal them. Jesus fulfills our prayers. Without my prayer, I couldn’t make it every day. Prayer sustains us and gets us through all the crises. We need prayer.”
Christine Bordelon can be reached at email@example.com.