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Catholic News Herald

Serving Christ and Connecting Catholics in Western North Carolina

061717 kneelersCHARLOTTE — A chance meeting at the Eucharistic Congress several years ago prompted two women to start an organized prayer effort for priests.

Called “Mary’s Sons,” the prayer apostolate is the inspiration of Jackie Gallagher and Robyn Magyar. During a conversation at Gallagher’s vendor booth at the Congress, they discovered that they both shared a love of supporting priests through prayer using a booklet entitled “Praying for our Priests.” Magyar was using it with a prayer group at her parish, St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Charlotte.

Together, they hoped “Mary’s Sons” could help spread this prayer effort even further across the diocese. Their effort is still growing, and a unique outgrowth has been what they call the “Seminarian Kneeler Prayer Pilgrimage.”

In this project, custom-made wooden kneelers have been bought thanks to local donations and given to the diocese’s new priests at their ordinations since 2014. Before ordination, the kneelers are put on display at parishes so that the faithful can offer prayers for the ordinands as well as future vocations.

“The vision was for the kneelers to travel to ‘host’ parishes throughout the diocese to give the parishioners an opportunity to kneel and pray for the soon-to-be ordained men,” Gallagher says.

“The pastors graciously opened their doors to Mary’s Sons and allowed the kneelers to be placed in a beautiful setting, such as before the Blessed Sacrament or a statue of Our Lady.”

This year, five kneelers – for Father Peter Ascik, Father Matthew Bean, Father Brian Becker, Father Christopher Bond and Father Christian Cook – traveled to parishes in early 2017 before being blessed by Bishop Peter Jugis June 15 and presented to the five new priests at a reception after their ordination.

“Each kneeler is a gift to the new priest and has a personalized plaque that reads ‘With our prayers for a joyful priesthood,’ the new priest’s name and date of his ordination,” Gallagher says.

In addition, each newly-ordained priest receives a traveling stole handmade by a local parishioner, as well as journals filled with well wishes written by those who have prayed on the kneelers at each church along the way.

“Our goal is to foster vocations but also, and especially, to pray for those priests out in the trenches doing God’s work daily. We must shower them with prayer to protect them against the evils out there trying to devour them.”

To learn more about Mary’s Sons, go to www.maryssons.com or call 704-707-5070.

— SueAnn Howell, senior reporter