St. Monica is known for her perseverance in prayer while watching her husband and son live lives of sin and refusal of God’s love. Her husband converted just before his death, and she prayed for her son for 17 years before he experienced conversion. Her son, who became St. Augustine of Hippo, said of his mother, “If I am a child of God, it is because thou gavest me such a mother.”
St. Monica’s years of dedication to praying for her family is the reason she is the patron saint of this particular prayer group. When Tracy Brend heard of this prayer group starting at a nearby parish, she started attending that group’s meetings. It wasn’t long before she felt the tug of the Holy Spirit to start a similar prayer group here at St. Francis.
“I had been attending this prayer group for a couple of months when I heard that whisper to start it here at St. Francis of Assisi,” Tracy says. “Eventually I built up my confidence and Deacon Matthew and I started it with no hesitation. We follow the same format that the other group does. We had such a large turnout that at the request of other people, we added an additional time for the prayer group to meet.”
The group meets twice a month. They open with the Angelus and together read one or two chapters of The St. Monica Club by Maggie Green. There are discussion questions that they go through and then close with either the Rosary or the Divine Mercy Chaplet, depending on how much time they have.
The St. Monica Club book is a guide on “how to wait, hope, and pray for your fallen-away loved ones.” An important focus of the book is how to be a good witness to our loved ones in order to lead them back to the church by your example, and not by hounding them.
However, the group itself is not just about praying for your fallen-away loved ones — it is also about developing your own person and to love that person in whatever stage they are in. It is also something of a support group, as each person in attendance shares the pain and loss of having a loved one who is rejecting the love of God.
“One thing that we do at each meeting is pass out little cards that each person in attendance can write the name of their loved ones that they are praying for,” Tracy says. “If they don’t want to include a name, they can write something as simple as ‘brother, sister, aunt, or uncle.’ Then we pass the cards out to different people so they can pray for this person’s loved one until the next meeting. Then we switch at the next meeting. Additionally, thanks to the discussion part of the group, we are seeing community being built among those in attendance.”
This prayer group meets on the first and third Wednesdays of each month. There are two meeting times — at 3 p.m. in the library, and 6 p.m. in the Adoration Chapel. All are welcome to join the meetings whenever they are able.
“It would be great if everyone could come to every meeting, but life doesn’t work that way,” Tracy says. “I send out an email the following day with the chapters we covered and the discussion questions that we prayed with.”
As St. Augustine said, “There is no saint without a past, no sinner without a future.” With that in mind, we invite those experiencing the pain of a prodigal loved one to join us and experience the love and support of this prayer group.
Join us on the first and third Wednesday of each month at 3 p.m. in the library or 6 p.m. in the Adoration Chapel. All are welcome. For more information, contact Deacon Matthew Brend at email@example.com or Tracy Brend at firstname.lastname@example.org.