In this Exclusive Interview given to Shalom Tidings, Doctor Owen Gallagher shares his astounding journey with Men’s Rosary and its impact world-over.
As a young boy growing up in rural Ireland in the 1950s, family Rosary was an everyday affair. My father would announce every evening, “Right, time for the Rosary.” No matter what we were doing, climbing trees, or doing homework, we had to drop it all and pray.
My six siblings and I grumbled about this. Eventually, I stopped saying the Rosary a year or so after I became a medical student. I wouldn’t pick up the Rosary again for 15 years.
After working abroad for years as a doctor, when I came home at the age of 34, all my family and friends were married; it was a lonely time…All I could think of was: “It’d be really nice to meet someone and get married.” Though Rosary recitation was out of the picture, I had continued going to Mass and was keen on marrying a Catholic girl.
Around this time, I came across a leaflet my father had given me on the 54-day Rosary Novena. The Irresistible Novena, as it was also known, apparently worked miracles. The first 27 days were composed of daily Rosary recitation, petitioning for a specific intention, and for another 27 days, a daily Rosary of thanksgiving was to be offered, regardless of the response to your petition.
I reluctantly decided to pray the Novena. I completed the 54 days of hard work, sometimes praying through gritted teeth. On the 54th day, I met Catherine. In a few weeks, we were engaged, and by the end of the year, we were married. Catherine and I began saying it together when we were going out with each other and continued it into our married life.
I still find the Rosary quite difficult to say at times. But my brother, Paddy, who says five or more Rosaries a day, says he really enjoys reciting the prayer, and the aura of calmness when he prays is a true testimony to the fact.
Fast forward over 30 years to 26 July 2021, the Feast day of Saint Joachim and Saint Anne. I was sent a picture of 1000 Polish men kneeling in rows on the street of Cracow, praying the Rosary together. Powerfully struck by this image, I immediately thought, “This has to happen in Ireland.”
I sent it to Patrick McCrystal, CEO of Human Life International, Ireland. His reaction was similar, and we got together. Two months later, the first public Men’s Rosary in Ireland took place in Derry City on the first Saturday in October, the month of the Rosary. Eighty men turned up, and 35 women supporters stood at the side praying with us. In that wonderful spiritual atmosphere, many passers-by joined us. The predicted heavy rain stopped as soon as we started to pray, and we finished the Rosary in blazing sunshine. From there, word started spreading.
Over 100 men turned up for the next Rosary in November (in Newry), 150 in December (in Belfast), and 200 for the January Rosary (in Armagh), including Archbishop Eamon Martin.
They were all powerful spiritual experiences, and there was a great sense of camaraderie amongst all the men despite the diversity of backgrounds. Saint Louis de Montfort said: “Public prayer is more powerful than private prayer,” and we took that statement seriously.
Saint John Vianney said: “Religion gains much more in influence when led by men,” and studies show this to be true. If the father of a family leads his family in religion, 80% of the children will practice. Whereas when the mother leads, only 20% of the children follow.
Many women have told us how powerful it is to see hundreds of men kneeling on the streets like soldiers in front of a statue of Our Lady, praying in repentance for our sins—in reparation for the way women have been mistreated for centuries, for men’s role in the sins of abortion by not supporting the women in their lives, for conversion of our country and the world, and an end to political tyranny.
As one woman said, “When men lead the faith, women and children follow.”
A 25-year-old lady told me that when she saw 150 men kneeling in the street in Belfast on a bitterly cold day, praying for women, it made her come back to faith.
Every time the Men’s Rosary visits a city or town, it has a powerful spiritual effect. People, even non-Catholics, seem struck by the spiritual strength of the public Rosary. Women, and sometimes men, burst into tears. Others are awe-struck by the wonderful sense of peace they encounter.
The Men’s Rosary on the street began in Poland on April 5th, 2018. Started by a man called Artur Wolski, it rapidly spread around Poland to many towns and most cities before coming to Ireland. Although it has been here only 21 months, there are now 22 regular venues around the country.
It has spread to over 40 different countries. Patrick recently gave a talk about the Men’s Rosary in Germany to over 200 men; a group of young men is all set to start the Rosary in the streets of Berlin. Hopefully, it will spread to other German-speaking nations and eventually all of Europe.
In Sydney, Australia, over 1000 men gather outside St Mary’s Cathedral every first Saturday. There are over 10 countries in South America where the Men’s Rosary is recited on the streets, and we hope the whole of the USA will follow through.
Our dream is to see every town, in every country in the world, observe Men’s Rosary every month. Maybe eventually, WoMen’s Rosary groups will spring up too! Currently, Poland has a WoMen’s Rosary group, and so does Northern Ireland.
“Blessed are those who trust in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord” (Jeremiah 17:7). God wants us to think big and trust Him. As Saint Columbanus puts it, “God’s favor is on those who trust in His Mercy.”
The Holy Spirit and Our Lady have certainly guided the Men’s Rosary on the street, and it is definitely something they desire us all to do.
I have organized quite a few things in my life, but organizing the Men’s Rosary has been much simpler than I expected. So many things seem to fall into place—people answer phones on the first ring, printers work, computers and cars function perfectly…
The Rosary is a very powerful prayer and not easy for everyone to say. Few worthwhile things are easy, and all difficult things become easier with practice. As Father Donald H. Calloway said, “Perseverance makes a champion.”
According to Saint Dominic, “If you persevere with the Rosary and say one Rosary a day for the rest of your life, you are assured by Our Lady that you will go to Heaven. Your life will also be much happier, and many difficult problems will simply vanish.”
What is there not to like about a promise like that, whereby simply giving 15 minutes a day to Our Lady, you please her so much?
And when you please the Mother of God, you most definitely please her Son!
Doctor Owen Gallagher is the second son in a big family of seven children. After working for several years in Africa, he returned home to Northern Ireland to take over his father's medical practice. His wife Catherine is also a medical practitioner, and they have nine grown children.
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