Celebrate the priesthood – and pray for priests

By Kimberly Bruce

This Priesthood Sunday, Sept. 25, give your parish priests a gift that keeps on giving — a Holy Hour for their intentions! 

Priesthood Sunday is coordinated and sponsored by the U.S. Council of Serra International. It is a day to reflect upon and affirm the role of the priest as central to the life of the Church. In honor of this, I’d like to share news about a new apostolate sweeping the globe and how it is aiding our ministerial priesthood.

Seven Sisters Apostolate
The story of the Seven Sisters Apostolate began in 2010 when Janette Howe of St. Paul, Minnesota, felt nudged by the Holy Spirit to pray more for her pastor. She began to offer a Holy Hour before the Blessed Sacrament for him once a week. After several months, she was prayerfully led to invite six other women to join her in offering Holy Hours on the other days of the week so that their pastor was continually being lifted in prayer each day.

The purpose of the Seven Sisters Apostolate, as stated on its website is “to strengthen the Church by ensuring that a Holy Hour is prayed each day of the week for the sole intention of a specific priest or bishop — a ‘holy wasting’ (cf. Mt. 26:10) or lavishing of prayer for his deeper conformity to Christ.”

My own story regarding this apostolate began nearly three years ago when my long-time friend, Lu-Ann, called to ask me if I’d be willing to become a member of her Seven Sisters group praying for a particular Marian priest. “No, I can’t,” I told her, “I just moved, the pandemic is going on, and churches aren’t even open for Adoration.”

The initial “no” on my behalf gradually turned to a definitive “yes” after praying to God for guidance. I felt assured that I would receive far more blessings for the sacrifice of one hour a week in this apostolate than I would in foregoing its incalculable graces.

One hour, for one year
The commitment for one in the apostolate is to pray one hour, on a designated day of the week, for one full year (usually from June to June, the month of the Sacred Heart of Jesus). One of the members in each group acts as “Anchoress,” coordinating and guiding that group. The Anchoress registers the group via the website, passes on information received from the Apostolate, and informs the priest that he is being prayed for. The names of the women praying for each priest are often kept anonymous.

Usually, a group decides to pray for their pastor or another priest in their parish or community. There are groups that also pray for bishops, and a few specifically dedicated to praying for the Pope. 

As I mentioned before, my own Seven Sisters group happens to be praying for one of the Marian priests. Our prayers for him began in 2020, but we have decided to continue and are now in our third year of prayer for him. Some of the women from our group have known this priest for years, beginning when he was a member of their parish before he entered the seminary. Knowing about this apostolate and feeling called to support him in his priestly ministry, they asked Lu-Ann if she would lead a group for him as its Anchoress.

Being in the Seven Sisters Apostolate has been such a blessing to myself and the other women with whom I’m sharing this work of mercy. The seven of us come from different states up and down the East Coast. That’s one of the beauties of this apostolate. You do not have to be in one specific geographical location to be in a group, though often it is the norm. 

Place of great peace
Paula, one of the women in our group, said that this apostolate has brought her “closer to the Lord,” saying, “I live in a nursing home and cannot go to Adoration, but my little prayer corner becomes a place of great peace ... this small gift of time I can give to God ends up helping Father ‘behind the scenes’” in spreading the Gospel.

Another member, Jeana, said that she chose Sunday as her day to pray for Father because “it is the day we celebrate all of who we are as Catholics and because I believe our priests need extra prayers on Sunday especially during the consecration” as they hold our Lord and the faithful then receive Him.

One member, Theresa, summed up our time perfectly when she said that praying for Father every week “is a joy and an honor ... Imagine what our world would be like if every priest had a Seven Sisters Apostolate [group] praying for him ... That’s a world I want to live in! What a positive difference our prayers could make in this world and in the next!”

Likewise, Fr. Gerald Fitzgerald, SP, poignantly sums up this apostolate on the website: “In strengthening the priest you strengthen the whole Church ... Strengthen the priest, and you strengthen the whole foundation, you strengthen everything in the Church.”

Please prayerfully consider joining the Seven Sisters Apostolate. To begin a group, simply register via their website.
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