By Chris Sparks (May 2, 2014)
"Hello, this is Brother Allen from the Marians of the Immaculate Conception. I was just calling to thank you for giving to the seminarian fund and to the Marians in general. I really appreciate it."
During his spring break in the first week of March, Br. Allen, MIC, took a vacation from his theological work at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C., to visit the Marian Helpers Center on Eden Hill. Staffers quickly put him to work.
"I was with Mary Kay Volpone in the Special Gifts office and she said, 'Oh, why don't you call some benefactors?'" he laughed. "I said, 'Okay, I'll call people and thank them for giving.' I didn't know who I'd get. I was calling, and all of a sudden I see Key West, Fla. I thought, 'Oh, that's interesting! I wonder if they remember me from the mission we ran down there.'"
The benefactor remembered. "She said, 'Oh, yeah! You were down here for a mission. You're the red-headed guy, aren't you? I'm praying for you every day!' To me, that's just — Wow. Immediately she remembered who I was. She said she's praying for me all the time. That means so much."
His time serving on the Marian Evangelization Team from September 2010-July 2011 with Fr. Dan Cambra, MIC, gave him a chance to travel to parishes across the country and give missions on the Divine Mercy message. He met many Marian Helpers along the way, including some of the most loyal.
"This one lady at a parish mission was 104 or so," Br. Allen recalled. "Her daughter was there, and she was in her 80s, and her granddaughter was there, in her 60s. The lady in the 80s was wearing the sweater her mother knitted for her during World War II! She said, 'Oh, we love the Marians!'
"I'm amazed by the number of people who are touched by the work of the Marians," said Br. Allen. "That's the beautiful thing about the Marian Helpers: People from all over the world, all different walks of life, all contribute to the work of spreading Divine Mercy, praying for the souls in purgatory, promoting devotion to Our Lady, and furthering the mission of the Church, especially the new evangelization.
"In a sense, it's the ordinariness of the Marian Helpers that makes them extraordinary," Br. Allen said. "In their daily lives, they're able to do what the Second Vatican Council is asking of the laity: to sanctify the secular order. We have religious, priests, and beautiful people who work in the Church, but the specific task the Second Vatican Council calls the laity to do is to share the light of Christ through their presence in society and by raising Christian families. I see the Marian Helpers doing that."
One way Marian Helpers serve to sanctify the world, said Br. Allen, is by regularly praying for the Marians and all their works — and their prayers are powerful.
"It means so much to me to hear, 'Oh, I've been praying for you,' or 'I pray for you every day.' When we intercede for others, we are able to share in God's work of fostering holiness in them. It's not good for man to be alone. God made us to be in communion. God made us to help each other and pray for each other. I know that it helps because I've experienced it in my own life. I strive for holiness, but I'm not doing it on my own. I know in my heart that Christ is working through all those who are praying for me, and grace is being poured out upon me all the time. I have to make sure I don't waste it."
Brother Allen makes a point to pray for the Marian Helpers in turn.
"When I get a thought to pray for somebody, I always take that as a sign. I try to offer up my works, my studies. We talk about how we can be connected through Facebook and Skype. Prayer is the most ancient way we can be connected. We have the direct line to Christ. He's the hub. I can pray for anybody in the world, and it can be powerful because of Him."
Like Br. Allen, all our Marian seminarians stay connected by praying for you, our Marian Helpers, and all their generous benefactors. Please pray for Br. Allen and his fellow Marian seminarians that they would persevere in their vocation and someday, God willing, serve Christ and the Church as faithful Marian priests.