By Teresa Garry
The Mothers of Priests Chapter is new to the Diocese of Duluth. In August 2013, Bishop Paul Sirba approached a few of us. He asked us to form a chapter for our diocese. Four of us mothers worked together and have founded the Mothers of Priests Chapter, now active in all five deaneries.
Mary Helmueller, a beautiful mother of a priest in the Twin Cities, started the first chapter in 2006. She started the organization in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis after her son was ordained for the Diocese of Sioux Falls. She knew that to be the mother of a priest is a beautiful vocation. It is an honor and a privilege. Mary understood the great gift of this calling and started Mothers of Priests Chapters to share in the experience of this vocation with other mothers of priests.
Our mission as a Mothers of Priests organization in the Diocese of Duluth is to pray fervently, following the example of our Blessed Mother Mary, for the sanctification of priests and to foster vocations to the priesthood; to grow spiritually, as mothers of priests; and to share this journey with each other under the protection and intercession of our Blessed Mother.
We pray as mothers regularly for our priests and vocations to the priesthood. It is in adoration that we often offer these prayers. Together we gather as a group several times a year to pray the rosary for our priests, to visit, to get to know one another and to be a source of support to each other.
Last June we went on retreat together, and we were blessed to have Kathleen Beckman as a speaker. The topic was on her new book, “Praying For Priests: A Mission for the New Evangelization.” Father George Zeck and my son, Father Michael Garry, concelebrated the Holy Mass to start our retreat.
October brought us another special blessing. We were honored to celebrate the Holy Mass with Bishop Sirba and eat a delicious lunch prepared for us at the Pastoral Center. We are currently planning another retreat for the mothers this May. We are in the infant stages of this new chapter and look forward to many more opportunities as mothers of priests to grow in our faith, to evangelize, to serve our communities and to pray for all priests.
The Diocese of Duluth Mothers of Priests Chapter recently hosted the first annual Mothers and Fathers of Priests Dinner. With our sons, we gathered for fellowship, prayer and a meal together. It was an opportunity to meet each other and share in our calling as parents of priests.
Unlike other secondary vocations, ones in which we may choose to say “yes” or “no,” as parents of priests we are given a unique gift through our son’s “yes” to God’s call in his life. They choose to serve the Lord and his people, and it impacts our lives and vocations.
May we all be open to praying for vocations to the priesthood, by offering our sons and grandsons to the Lord of the harvest. If you do not have a son or grandson, if you are single or if you are married without children, pray for the people of your parish to be open to God’s call. We can all be spiritual mothers or fathers.
“‘Lift your eyes and see.’ See how in heaven there are empty places; it is up to you to fill them. You are my Moses praying on the mountain. Ask me for workers and I shall send them, I await only a prayer, a sigh from your heart!”
These are the words of our Lord Jesus Christ through the heart of St. Therese of Lisieux. He only awaits a sigh from our hearts. How long must he wait? Jesus calls all of us to pray for the harvest, to pray for vocations.
You might say “I am so busy! This is just one more thing.” Well, keep in mind that Jesus is everywhere you go. If the only time you have to pray is on your way to work, turn off the radio and pray for vocations. If you can get up for an early round of golf, to catch an early flight for travel, for any number of things, then you can certainly add some quiet time with our Lord each day and get up early for him. There is no better way to start your day, and he is patiently waiting.
Why not designate one Holy Hour in your adoration chapel each week for the sole intention of praying for priests and vocations to the priesthood? If you do not have an adoration chapel in your parish, ask your pastor to have one Holy Hour a month for vocations. Without an increase in vocations to the priesthood, without the harvest, there will be no priests. Without priests the Holy Mass will not be celebrated. Without the Holy Mass there will be no Eucharist. Do you see where I’m going with this?
“The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest” (Matthew 9:37-38).
We have all read or heard those words many times. Well it’s time to put those words into action again.
Two or more gathered in my name. . . .
There is a little village of Lu, in northern Italy where the deepest desire of many of these mothers was for one of their sons to become a priest or for a daughter to place her life completely in God’s service. These women gathered every Tuesday for adoration asking the Lord for vocations. They received Holy Communion on the first Sunday of every month with the same intention, and they also prayed this prayer: “O God, grant that one of my sons may become a priest! I myself want to live as a good Christian and want to guide my children always to do what is right, so that I may receive the grace, O God, to be allowed to give you a holy priest! Amen.”
Through the trusting prayer of these mothers and the openness of the other parents, their prayers were answered. From the little village of Lu came 323 vocations: 152 priests and 171 nuns. Just think what God could accomplish with the prayers of our diocese if mothers, fathers, youth, grandparents, single people and religious prayed for vocations in our diocese. Again, two or more gathered in my name — I think that says it all, don’t you? What are we waiting for?
Teresa Garry is the mother of Father Michael Garry, a priest of the Diocese of Duluth.