Marian Consecration Spreads Throughout the Diocese

By Helen M. Weir, MI
Catholic Times Correspondent

NECEDAH - On Sept. 15, approximately 120 members of St. Francis of Assisi Parish [Necedah, Diocese of La Crosse, Wis.] made their total consecration to Mary, using the preparation spelled out in 33 Days to Morning Glory by Father Michael Gaitley, MIC.

"Some parishioners asked that consecrations be made, and this book was suggested," said Father Joseph Redfern, the pastor of St. Francis Parish. "I had a look at it and decided that it would be suitable."

Members of nearby St. Mary of the Lake Parish, Castle Rock Lake, of which Father Redfern is also the pastor, took part as well.

As to why he chose to encourage consecration at this time, Father Redfern cited 33 Days to Morning Glory in saying "it is important at all times. It is the 'surest, easiest, shortest, and most perfect means' to becoming a saint."

Tracy Arbanas of St. Francis of Assisi Parish was instrumental in getting the program going. "The Web site has video tutorials and downloads to help you bring the program to your parish," she said. "After understanding how it works, we began to advertise through fliers, personal testimonies at Mass, and encouragement from Father [Redfern] from the pulpit. We then chose group facilitators, and decided to hold the meetings in the large hall."

The format entails small group meetings, but individuals can also participate by doing their preparation privately. The focus is on four Marian giants - Louis de Montfort, Maximilian Kolbe, Mother Teresa, and John Paul II - and on tackling common questions like, "Should we really give Mary everything?"

"This entrusting of oneself to Mary," Father Gaitley writes in the pamphlet version of 33 Days to Morning Glory, "which (John Paul II) beautifully describes as 'taking her into one's own home,' should be understood as our following of Christ's own example - He first entrusted Himself to Mary at the Annunciation and then throughout the Hidden Life - and as His will for His disciples. After all, He Himself initiates such entrustment: 'Behold your Mother.' But why does Christ do this? Is it that He wants to distance Himself from us? No. He's bringing us closer to Himself by giving us to the one who is closest to Him, the same one who directs everything to Him: 'Do whatever He tells you.'"

"Father Gaitley's program is well-written and easily understandable," Arbanas said, "and his talks on DVD for the small group meetings are very inspiring."

The consecration component is actually only the first part of the Hearts Afire Parish-based Programs from the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception (HAPP), which utilize Father Gaitley's books Consoling the Heart of Jesus and The One Thing is Three, to extend parish renewal even further.

On the day of consecration at St. Francis of Assisi Parish, participants recited a prayer dedicating themselves as instruments of Mary Immaculate, just as Mary is the perfect instrument of the will of God.

For the ceremony itself, Father Redfern "found some things on the Web site which I used, and added a blessing of an image of Our Lady of Sorrows from the Book of Blessings." Participants were then invited to place a rose at the base of Our Lady's image.

The overwhelming number of consecrations that took place in Necedah is not an isolated phenomenon. Speaking at the Marian Symposium held at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Oct. 12, Father Gaitley said he is witnessing a "second push" of Marian devotion throughout the nation and beyond - the first, he stated, was spearheaded by St. Maximilian Kolbe in the dreadful decades leading up to the Second World War. On the day after Father Gaitley's talk - Oct. 13, the anniversary of the miracle of the sun in Fatima, Portugal in 1917 - Pope Francis consecrated the entire world to Our Blessed Mother.

"I don't know why she is doing this now," Father Gaitley said, referencing Our Lady's own initiative in the matter, "but I know she is calling more and more people to become instruments in her cause."

He called attention especially to the situation in Mexico, where pagan worship is arising once again. Among other efforts, Father Gaitley and his collaborators are making a million copies of "33 Days to Morning Glory," translated into Spanish, available for free.

In February of 2011, Father Gaitley formed a partnership with Lighthouse Catholic Media.

Mike Groleau, Lighthouse's Director of Marian Programs, said that a focus on Sister Faustina's Divine Mercy devotion is needed to complete the picture.

"People think that judgment is all there is, but Jesus doesn't want it that way!" Groleau said. He reports parishes that have had 700 parishioners make their consecrations at a time, and that conversions to the Catholic Church are taking place because of the program, as well. Groleau is in the process of recruiting 12 young men to become part of a pilot project as Marian missionaries.

As for Necedah, Father Redfern said that the process has "certainly brought about a greater awareness of the need to consecrate ourselves to Christ through Mary. Pastors should know that this will bear fruit in the life of the faithful."

Reprinted with permission from The Catholic Times: Serving the Catholic Community of the Diocese of La Crosse.


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