March 26, 2012

Campaign prayer teams are increasing prayer participation at many parishes engaged in Changing Lives Together

Prayer is an essential part of spiritual life among faithful Catholics and has emerged as a key element of Changing Lives Together campaigns in many parishes. Prayer teams have formed at dozens of parishes throughout southeast Michigan, in which daily prayers are offered for parish campaign leaders, for parishioner intentions, and to prompt parishioner involvement in Changing Lives Together as a means of invigorating their faith.

Holy Name Prayer Card

The Holy Name parish prayer was printed on prayer cards and distributed to parishioners as the parish campaign got underway.

Changing Lives Together is proving to be a great starting point for many things, including organized, focused prayer,” said Patti Koval, co-chair of the Changing Lives Together prayer committee. “This is a great opportunity to reflect on how we can change our lives to develop a meaningful personal relationship with Jesus through prayer, studying Scripture, and sharing our gifts of time, talent, and treasure with the parish community,” she explained. “Getting started is a matter of praying to God and asking what it is that the Lord wants to do through you,” said Koval.

As parishes organize their Changing Lives Together efforts, many pastors have asked parishioners to form a prayer team. At St. Daniel in Clarkston, Father Christopher Maus recruited Al and Christine Moore. “We had never done this sort of thing before, but we said, ‘Sure, we’ll do it,’ and got started last August,” recalled Al. Several parishioners responded to outreach by Al and Christine, and between 12 and 20 now participate in weekly Wednesday evening prayer services that begin with the prayer of the day from the Divine Office, followed by prayers for parishioner intentions.

“We’ve collected about three or four pages of parishioner intentions through the campaign and the parish prayer box,” explained Al. “If you want someone to help you pray, or have an intention, we’ll take care of that for six weeks, and if you want your request to be renewed, we’ll do that, too,” he said. While active fundraising through Changing Lives Together at St. Daniel concluded last October, the parish prayer services have continued. “It’s been very exciting and we have been very blessed,” said Christine. “I don’t know how we’ve done what we’ve done, but I do know the Holy Spirit took over and made it happen for us,” Al said.

Over 1,600 St. Daniel parishioners have pledged more than $500,000 for several improvements to parish facilities and to establish ministries to support the developmentally challenged in north Oakland County and those affected by the economic downturn.

Our Lady of the Lakes Prayer Team

Members of the Our Lady of the Lakes prayer team gathered for a Wednesday evening prayer service.

About 90 parishioners have joined the prayer team formed through Changing Lives Together at Our Lady of the Lakes in Waterford. “Our prayer team has been a huge success,” said Father Lawrence Delonnay, who asked Deacon John Schulte and his wife, Mary, to lead the effort. “Our only experience was putting prayer calendars together, so we adapted what we knew to what the parish needed, and it’s going strong,” said Mary, a certified, commissioned Catholic spiritual director. “We established a prayer calendar and assign each team member a day during which they fast and pray for the whole team.”

John and Mary gather 15-25 new prayer intentions from the parish prayer box twice-monthly and distribute them by phone and email to team members. Much of the team’s prayer activity is home-based. “Many of our team members were looking for something like this to get involved from home,” she explained. “Some team members are home bound and others are stay-at-home parents with children, so they participate during the day whenever their prayer time is. We have prayer evenings at the church during Lent and Advent, we conduct evenings of reflection, participate in 24-hour Eucharistic adoration, and we’ve held two retreat days in the past year,” she added. “It’s the Holy Spirit leading us and we are grateful to be a part of this effort,” concluded Mary.

Our Lady of the Lakes and AHV

Dennis Strelchuk, Our Lady of the Lakes campaign pacesetter gift leader (left) joined Archbishop Vigneron and Father Lawrence Delonnay at a Changing Lives Together reception.

Our Lady of the Lakes has received more than $800,000 in pledges from over 2,500 households for improvements to the parish school, the centerpiece of the parish-produced Changing Lives Together video.

At St. Frances Cabrini, Father Joe Mallia turned to 18-year parishioner John Cicotte to start a prayer team well before Changing Lives Together was started at the Allen Park parish. “We recruited folks from the Cabrini Bible Study group, the parish men’s club, our Eucharistic adoration group, and other parishioners,” recalled Cicotte. “We wound up with 85 to 100 people enlisting to pray daily for parishioner intentions, our campaign leaders, and for the success of the campaign.”

When Cabrini parishioners made outreach phone calls to their fellow parishioners, they solicited prayer intentions, which were provided to the prayer team. “Those intentions continue to be prayed for today,” said Cicotte. The Cabrini prayer team wrote a parish prayer for the campaign, started a monthly prayer calendar, and coordinated prayer efforts with the Cabrini Eucharistic adoration group.

More than 3,200 households at St. Frances Cabrini have pledged $2 million to Changing Lives Together to pay down parish debt and make improvements in and around the church. “Father Joe felt strongly about the prayer aspect of our campaign, so we emphasized the prayer team before the campaign got rolling,” said Cicotte.

Monsignor John Zenz at Holy Name in Birmingham turned to 29-year parishioner Barbara Wilson and 27-year parishioner Karen Aliber to start their campaign prayer team. “The first thing Barbara and I did was go before our Lord in Eucharistic Adoration to seek guidance on how to develop this team and ideas for prayer events,” said Aliber.  “We wrote a parish prayer based on Psalm 51 for the campaign and asked individual parishioners if they would commit to pray for the spiritual growth of the Parish and all the CLT Leaders daily,” she continued. “Over 180 Holy Name parishioners joined the prayer team and a special Mass was held in the parish chapel during which Msgr. Zenz blessed each member of the team,” recalled Aliber.

The Holy Name prayer team fanned out to fellow parishioners, distributing copies of the parish prayer and asking for involvement. “We ultimately enrolled 80 parishioners that committed to pray daily for the parish, our campaign leaders, and parishioner intentions,” explained Aliber.

Holy Name Cross

The Holy Name Changing Lives Together prayer team erected a prayer intention cross in the church. Each small cross represents a parishioner prayer intention.

After placing the parish prayer in the front of the parish hymnals and incorporating the prayer into all Masses during the campaign, the prayer team erected a large cross in the church, on which parishioner prayer intentions were symbolically affixed using small crosses. “This proved to be an important connection,” said Aliber. “Parishioners seeking prayers put their intentions at Christ’s feet, and united their suffering with that of Jesus.” Two weeks before parishioners were asked to make their campaign commitments, Holy Name kicked off a parish novena based on the Holy Name of Jesus at all Masses with copies distributed to all parishioners. The novena concluded with 24 hour Eucharistic Adoration.

The commitment continues among Holy Name prayer team members to pray for the prayer intentions of parishioners. Aliber said the prayer team hopes to meet monthly in the future.

Holy Name has received more than $1 million in pledges from over 1,800 households for facility and grounds improvements, school enhancements, and youth and adult faith formation.

Changing Lives Together is a series of parish campaigns to generate resources to fulfill parish-developed plans and priorities. Learn more about the initiative in your parish.