CHARLESTON — For Father Jerome H. Vereb, Pauline Books in Charleston was his first choice to launch the promotion of his book “Pope John Paul II and the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary.”
“Of all the places I’ve ever been — and I’ve been many places — I love South Carolina the best,” he said.
The member of the Vatican’s Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity was on a promotion of his own. It was a two-day affair beginning with a talk on the Luminous Mysteries Dec. 18 and concluding with a book signing Dec. 19.
Father Vereb, a Passionist father and former parochial vicar at St. Peter Church in Columbia, was responsible for the facilitation of the papal visit to South Carolina in 1987.
“The residents of South Carolina were absolutely warm and welcoming during that visit,” he said. “I have found the faith and the cause of ecumenicism to be very strong among Christians here. I was truly overwhelmed and hated to go.”
And it is this ecumenical cause that has been the focus of Father Vereb’s ministry from the very beginning in the early 1970s. And it is this topic about which he has spent many years researching and writing.
“When I was a newly ordained minister in the field of ecumenical moral issues, I was asked to take a position in the Vatican,” he said.
That position was one of many that he held in Rome; the most recent was a seven-year term as the secretary to Cardinal Silvestrini, working with the Oriental churches.
“I am just back from Rome following my retirement,” he said. “Now I hope to teach and write more about ecumenical issues.”
The book, which was published in June 2003, is one about which Father Vereb feels strongly. The way the book came to be “was something of a miracle,” he explained.
“This time last year the religion editor for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette asked me what I knew about the mysteries of the rosary — the new ones,” he said. “She said the paper had received more inquiries about this topic than any other religious topic in 50 years.”
Father Vereb said that she asked him to compose something about the mysteries, and it was in response to this request that his book was formed.
“I just sat down and started to write,” he said. “I just put down my personal experiences.”
The book outlines the mysteries, which were derived from the teachings of Father George Preca, a “humble Maltese priest of the 20th century who spent his time catechizing the youth of Malta,” according to the book.
Father Preca believed that the “Rosary had a great history, but that it wasn’t enough. It needed to be added to.”
“Preca devised a new set of mysteries taken from the public life of Jesus to explain the reason for Jesus’ life and death,” Father Vereb said.
Father Preca’s luminous mysteries are as follows: Jesus is baptized in the Jordan; the Wedding feast at Cana; the Proclamation of the Kingdom of God; the Transfiguration of Jesus on Mt. Tabor; the Institution of the Eucharist.
It was during Preca’s beatification that Pope John Paul II was required to review his extensive teachings, and he came upon these mysteries.
The pope recommended the addition of the mysteries on the 24th anniversary of his papal election in 2002.
For more information on Father Vereb’s book, visit Pauline Books at 243 King St. in Charleston. The book is also available online through all major booksellers.