Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of September 20, 1999
Ephphatha launches prayer assault
3,100 spend an hour praying for the pope
By ANH HOANG
WCR Staff Writer
A siege has always been synonymous with things hostile. Rebel guerillas toting guns and grenades storming government buildings - a fine example of a siege.
But prayer at a retreat centre among the trees and brisk calm river waters of central Alberta does not conjure images of a siege.
"A siege is seven days of praying the rosary continuously," said Wally O'Hara, who organized the event at Ephphatha House Sept. 1-7. "The power of it is to be said in front of the Blessed Sacrament exposed."
This was the second Siege of Jericho at Ephphatha this year. The first siege, May 1-7, coincided with the days of the traditional siege.
The first modern day seige in 1978 when the Polish communist government placed restrictions on the visit of Pope John Paul.
The Polish people began continuously praying the rosary for seven days and nights at the shrine of Our Lady in Czestochowa in support of the papal visit and to overcome all obstacles for the trip. On May 7 the communist government withdrew all restrictions.
"That's the power of prayer," O'Hara said. "People still pray for the pope. From the moment he leaves (the Vatican) until he comes back, they pray continuous rosary for his safety."
O'Hara learned of the siege from a woman in Virginia who was able to find enough people to commit to 4,200 hours of continuous prayer.
"We even got two pages of names of people from the Philippines to participate," O'Hara said.
O'Hara organized the second siege in September ending the day before Our Lady's birthday, as a present.
When asked if they were surprised at the turnout for the siege, both Wally and her husband Francis O'Hara immediately exclaimed "Yes!"
"We never expected it," said Francis O'Hara, director of Ephphatha House. "We never thought we would get people from all over the world. We had 3,100 hours (of prayer) this time."
Wally O'Hara added, "We thought we'd get 400, 500 hours. We thought of doing only at Ephphatha only, but the word spread. We received letters from people all over wanting to participate."
The O'Haras said although many of the participants, some of whom live overseas and throughout the U.S., could not make the trip to Ephphatha, their prayers during specific hours in their own home were as effective.
"As long as we have people praying at every hour," O'Hara said. "It's a continuous prayer, we never had an hour where there wasn't someone somewhere praying."
The siege looks like it's heading to be an annual event, said the O'Haras. Wally O'Hara is busy planning a schedule for a perpetual rosary. She hopes to get enough people to pray the rosary at least one hour a week and work up enough people to have it last though the year.
"Everyone wants to get involved in something like this," Wally O'Hara said. "People are saying it with their families. Last time a whole school did it - 35 teachers at a school said the rosary during their lunch hour, 375 students said (the rosary) throughout the day.
"I think this will really take off."
Information on the siege and other events at Ephphatha House can be found online at www.compusmart.
ab.ca/ephphath or by calling 963-0896.