Year of the Rosary begins

Among those at the intersection of the universal church’s Year for Priests and the Diocese of Peoria’s soon-to-begin Year of the Most Holy Rosary is Msgr. Paul Showalter.

With a strong devotion to Mary since his birth in Rock Island nearly 70 years ago on the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, Msgr. Showalter now has a leadership role among the 200 priests of the diocese as vicar general.

In addition to his diocesan duties — as vicar general he is a member of a host of committees — Msgr. Showalter also serves as pastor of three Peoria parishes, including as rector of St. Mary’s Cathedral. His days can be long as he moves between parish and diocesan challenges, joys, and crises.

The rosary, he says, “helps keep a balance in my life.”

“The tie of my priesthood with Mary, the mother of Jesus, is such an important part of my life,” he told The Catholic Post as the diocese prepared to open its Year of the Rosary next Saturday, Aug. 15. “Just as Mary guided Our Lord, I ask that she guide me, protect me.”

It is a daily request.

Msgr. Showalter said he prays the rosary during different times of day, but almost always manages to fit it in.

While that’s often accomplished in the car, at other times Msgr. Showalter prays the rosary before the Blessed Sacrament in the chapel of St. Bernard’s Rectory in Peoria, where he resides. As providence would have it, the small, second-floor chapel features a stained-glass window depicting the Blessed Mother giving the rosary to St. Dominic.

Msgr. Showalter said that just as Mary gave the rosary to Dominic, so the Diocese of Peoria hopes its focus on the rosary during the next nine months is a way of giving the devotion again to the people.

“The rosary for me is the touchstone for so many rich traditions of the church,” said Msgr. Showalter, who has also served as pastor of St. Pius X and St. Mary’s parishes in Rock Island and Sts. Peter and Paul in Nauvoo, among other assignments. “But it’s also tied in with family roots that gave me life and faith.”

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