History of the May Day Family Rosary Procession
In 1941, the late Archbishop John Gregory Murray appointed the late Monsignor Richard Doherty to be the director of Catholic action for the Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis.
In 1947, Monsignor Doherty initiated a public demonstration of prayer at the St. Paul Cathedral in response to the rise of communism in Eastern Europe, due to the message of our Lady of Fatima. Because the 1947 prayer service was so successful, Monsignor Doherty launched the May Day Family Rosary Procession in 1948 for the same reason.
The procession was co-founded by the late Florence Kueppers — the grandmother of (Joe Kueppers) our Archdiocesan Chancellor of Civil Affairs. According to Monsignor Doherty, the May Day Family Rosary Procession was an outgrowth of the Catholic Action Committee. The procession began with a public demonstration of praying the Most Holy Rosary, as requested by our Blessed Mother as Fatima, to counteract the communist display of military power on the first day of May in Red Square in Moscow. Today we also use this powerful Marian prayer of the Rosary to strengthen family life. This is the reason the first Sunday of May was selected for a counter display of the spiritual might of the Rosary to offset worldly forces.
In 1951, the late Monsignor James Reardon, rector of the Basilica of St. Mary gave permission for Monsignor Doherty to hold a procession simultaneously in Minneapolis on the same day at the Basilica. Since 1948 in St. Paul and 1951 in Minneapolis, thousands have processed every year either at the Cathedral or the Basilica to pray the Rosary on the 1st Sunday in May. In October of 1958, the May Day Family Rosary Procession Committee still headed by Monsignor Doherty sponsored an Archdiocesan Rosary Rally on the State Capitol grounds. Father Patrick Peyton (the Rosary priest) was the guest speaker and an estimated 224,000 people attended according to the Catholic Bulletin. In 1963, attendance at both Rosary processions peaked. According to Bernard Casserly, the editor of the Catholic Bulletin at the time, the attendance was 35,000 in St. Paul and 30,000 in Minneapolis. In 1998, the May Day Family Rosary Procession Committee received a papal blessing in conjunction with the celebration of their 50th anniversary.
The May Day Family Rosary Procession Committee has received the participation and blessing by every Archbishop and Bishop since 1947, along with Monsignor Richard Doherty, Monsignor Stanley Srnec, Father Francis Dudley, Father Bernard Klein, and others.
Current Spiritual Director:
Director of the Office of Worship
Mrs. Connie Schneider
Treasurer – David Schuelender