Brian T. Olszewski, The Catholic Virginian

Like millions of other people, Katrina Phillips is concerned about the spread and impact of the coronavirus. As she talked with friends who were also concerned, she got an idea.

Katrina Phillips

“When you don’t have control and there’s fear, you try to see the person who’s in control,” she said. “So, let’s pray. That’s the only way we’re going to get out of this.”

Having spoken with a friend in New York on March 21 who was impacted by the virus, Phillips, vice president of the St. Vincent de Paul conference at her parish, St. Michael the Archangel, Glen Allen, said she wanted to begin praying immediately. 

“I reached out to Dan (Kearns, president of the conference and president of the Diocese of Richmond’s St. Vincent de Paul Council) and asked, ‘Would it be OK if I just sent an email to the women?’ Then I thought, why limit it? Let’s send it to everybody (in our conference),” she said. “It was one of those things where God spoke and I listened.” 

Phillips invited Vincentians to pray the rosary every Sunday night at 7, beginning March 22. 

“As a Vincentian, spirituality is huge; it’s the cornerstone of what we do,” she said. “There’s something powerful with the rosary and there’s something special as I know I’m saying the rosary at my house and other Vincentians are saying it.”

They are saying it in 13 other states as Kearns let the SVDP’s regional and national offices know about the endeavor and they spread the word.

“We’ve heard from people in South Dakota, Washington, New Jersey — all over the country,” he said, noting more than 200 people had participated as of Palm Sunday night.

Participants are asked to pray for safety of health care professionals, recovery of those suffering with the virus, wisdom for Church and government leaders, those suffering from the economic impact of the virus and God’s infinite wisdom to provide a cure.

“As Vincentians, our mission is the spiritual growth of our members through service to those in need. Katrina’s idea of this rosary was the true embodiment of what St. Vincent de Paul is about,” Kearns said, adding, “It is one of the most meaningful experiences I’ve had.”

Phillips said the idea for the Sunday night rosary has less to do with her and more to do with the environment created by COVID-19.

“We can be fearful or we can find hope in it. Even if people don’t say the rosary, they can turn to God because there is peace in that. That’s the biggest thing because it’s crazy right now,” she said. 

Phillips hopes people will continue to turn to God once the pandemic subsides.

“During this time we can go out and hoard toilet paper or we can deepen our relationship with God. If we take small steps, I would hope deepening our relationship with Christ would come out of it.”

Editor’s note: For further information about the Sunday night rosary, go to https://svdp-rva.org.