A Ministry that ‘Never Stops’

Parishioners at a Midwest Marian parish have a rejoinder to the lurid headlines generated by the small percentage of clergy whose grave sins have rocked the Church and shaken the faith of many. 

These parishioners have no intention of wallowing in disillusionment, no intention of leaving the Church. Instead, they gather weekly specifically to pray for priests.

“I just feel so strongly about it — that it’s a ministry that should be in every parish,” says Sue Kramer of St. Mary Church in Plano, Illinois. “The priests need strength. They need prayers. They need support — people backing them up — and prayer is the most powerful thing you can do for them as a lay person. It should be a ministry that starts and never stops.”

“I can tell it’s really supporting our priests,” says parishioner Teresa Stawiarski. “Whenever we pray, they know it, they feel it, and they say, ‘Thank you for the prayers.’”

Parishioners meet each Friday from 9 to 11 a.m. in St. Mary’s Adoration chapel. They pray for the Marian priests who serve St. Mary and nearby St. Patrick’s Parish in Yorkville. 

Their prayers include the Rosary and the Chaplet of the 10 Evangelical Virtues of the Blessed Virgin Mary. They specifically ask Mary to intercede on behalf of their priests — that they model themselves on Mary and remain humble, holy, wise, and joyful instruments of God’s divine grace.

Think about the objects of their prayers. These are men who said “yes” to God and “yes” to a life of continual self-sacrifice. Faithful and devoted to the Church, fervently loving our Lord and the Blessed Mother, they became Catholic priests.

And not just Catholic priests, but Marian priests modeled on Blessed George Matulaitis-Matulewicz who led the renewal and reform of the Marian Fathers in the early 20th century. Blessed George articulated the self-sacrificial dimension of Marian spirituality that has served as a rallying cry for Marians around the world:

Lord, give us the courage and strength to forget and deny ourselves; to die to ourselves so that we may not be afraid to lose ourselves in the Community for the greater glory of God and the good of the Church; to shine forth like a candle on the altar; to be consumed for the glory of God like grains of incense which give off a sweet fragrance; let us not be afraid to be worn out, used up, diminished for the greater glory of God (Journal, 88). 

Our prayers help ensure that our priests, through the truth they preach and the truth they live, remain faithful to Christ, faithful to their vocation, and faithful guides of God’s people.

The ministry at St. Mary began more than a decade ago in the home of Lydia Krantz. She was inspired to draw parishioners together after she came upon a quote that said something along the lines of: “There is no such thing as a bad priest — only one who hasn’t been prayed for enough.”

“It was like an arrow to my heart,” she says. 

The ministry eventually moved to the church, before the Blessed Sacrament, at the suggestion of Fr. Matthew Lamoureux, MIC, pastor of St. Patrick’s.

The prayer gatherings serve as a weekly act of love and thanksgiving for priests as well as an acknowledgment that priests are targets of the evil one and are in need of divine assistance.

“It’s just the most important thing we can do right now — praying for priests,” says Teresa. “We need priests. We need holy priests. We need the Eucharist. We need all the Sacraments. There’s so much negativity about priests. But if some priests are weak, it’s because people aren’t praying for them.”

Father Andy Davy, MIC, pastor of St. Mary Church, says he and his fellow Marians are deeply indebted to parishioners who pray for them. He’s specifically touched that they turn to the Blessed Mother for her intercession.

“In watching ‘The Passion of The Christ,’ remember the scene where Jesus is being scourged by the Roman soldiers?” he says. “He gains new strength by gazing into the eyes of His Mother Mary and is able to stand up, even to the amazement of the soldiers.

“The special call of praying for priests is being like Mary in this moment of ‘The Passion.’ Priests are called to be alter Christus (another Christ), bringing His presence more deeply into the world. At all times, the priesthood has been under attack. But especially in our times, we have experienced both the brokenness of priests who have fallen in their vocation, as well as the suffering heroic priests who are persecuted as white and red martyrs. 

“Praying for priests,” said Fr. Andy, “is the call to gaze into the wounded, scourged Christ, so that the priesthood might rise in strength against the temptations that seek to destroy it, as well as receive the strength to offer themselves more completely to the Heart of Christ.

“Priests need prayer intercessors more than ever, or they will be swept away by the malicious will of the enemy. Please pray for us priests that we might rise amidst the scourging, and become more conformed to the Divine Mercy, Jesus Christ.”

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