Correction: this story has been updated to correct the spelling of the last name of George and Blair Strimpel of South Rockwood. 

Detroit — As the leader of the rosary led about 500 worshipers at a prayer rally Sunday, a blustering wind coming across the Detroit River caused the American, Canadian and Vatican flags at the front of the gathering to swell.

It was an almost ethereal moment, arriving as Catholics at the event publicly displayed their faith as part of rosary prayer rallies happening simultaneously across North America and in 50 countries at 4 p.m. Sunday. A similar gathering took place across the river in Windsor's Bert Weeks Memorial Gardens.

On the Riverwalk, worshipers stood, sat and knelt on the cement along the Detroit Riverwalk, many clutching and American flags. They recited the traditional Catholic prayer together in the second year of the simultaneous prayer event.

George Strimpel, 52, and his wife Blair, 56, traveled from South Rockwood to attend the rally. Both were wearing T-shirts that read "Saint Paul Street Evangalization."

George Strimpel said he cameto the event because he wanted to share his faith with others and be part of the "solution and not the problem."

His wife expressed her conviction about the power of prayer. "Passers by see us doing this, maybe this will plant a seed in their mind," Blair Strimpel said. "There is the power of God that can help instead of complaining, complaining."

"It's like Jesus and God have become dirty words," she said, "Everything else is allowed, so we're just trying to show our beliefs like everyone else."

Michelle St. Pierre, who organized the event for the Archdiocese of Detroit, said holding the prayer gathering on the steps of the Riverwalk behind the GM Renaissance Center was an important way to publicly display their faith and witness to others observing the event.

"There was many people here today that we handed out rosaries to," St. Pierre said. "People stopped and wanted to know, 'What are you doing?' and we told them we're praying simultaneously with 50 nations throughout the world for our world." 

Janice Goral, 59, of Dearborn and Kathy Kuhn, 60, of Grosse Pointe Farms said they were praying the rosary to end abortion. 

"Prayer is powerful, and when we're united in prayer, it's even more powerful," Goral said.

Twitter: @EvanJamesCarter

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