Nightly, online rosary from Chapel Hill to the world

En Español

The creators of Facebook probably never imagined that the small network of college friends they created in 2004 would today be a vital, global resource for keeping the Catholic faith alive.

The month of May is a time when many Catholics express their love and devotion for the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is traditional in May, for example, to pray the holy rosary together. However, due to COVID-19, many people around the world have had to find new “virtual” ways to continue this tradition.

Cristina Baena, Hispanic Ministries assistant at St. Thomas More in Chapel Hill, remembers how one year ago a small group of friends from her parish decided to gather virtually to pray together.

“In April of last year, when the church was closed, we were very concerned about the situation that many members of our community were living in. Therefore, we decided to start praying the holy rosary [in Spanish] on Tuesdays and Saturdays with Deacon Luis Royo until the month of May, when we decided to extend the prayers to every day in honor of the month of Holy Mary,” said Baena.

Baena’s husband Sergio Escobar, who is the IT manager at St. Thomas More, said that during the first prayers they were expecting only a few other families. They were very surprised when more and more people started to join the daily prayers.

“We had no prior technical experience. But we enjoyed the experience so much that after seeing the answer of people and their desire for continuing with the daily prayers, we talked as a family and decided to get more involved and became responsible for organizing the holy rosary prayer and streaming it on our Spanish Facebook page,” commented Escobar. 

Since May of last year, Baena and Escobar haven’t stopped or taken any breaks from praying the rosary every day. Dozens of people get together to pray each evening at 7 p.m. and Saturdays at 6 p.m. Many of the participants don’t even live in the Chapel Hill area.

“In the beginning we were only a few friends from the church. We thought it was just us, but the community of faith for the holy rosary has grown and even extended to people in other countries, because some of the friends who are praying now invited their relatives in their home country to pray with us too,” commented Baena.

A year later, the way of streaming the prayer of the holy rosary on Facebook has adapted, allowing many more families to participate from their own homes. Baena edited the rosary prayer book to adapt it to virtual readings while her husband has trained volunteers so they can lead the virtual rosary from their own homes.

“I tell the people who lead the prayer of the rosary from their homes to pray as if they were speaking directly to Mary,” said Baena.

“We have had to teach people how to organize the altar and broadcast live from their cell phones every night during the streaming. The families who volunteer praying the holy rosary have learned a lot. Praying the holy rosary has transformed our own lives too,” concluded Escobar.


The Hispanic community at St Thomas More will continue praying the holy rosary via Facebook through the month of May every weeknight and Sunday at 7 p.m. and Saturdays at 6 p.m. They are also inviting the Spanish speaking community to attend their Marian Retreat Saturday, May 15 at 8:30 a.m., also on Facebook.

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