Tradition holds that without the prayers of a loving, patient mother, the Church would be without one of its greatest saints. St. Monica’s oldest son fell prey to the false teachings of heresy while living an immoral life. Years of prayers and fasting led to her son’s conversion, and he became St. Augustine of Hippo, one of the greatest minds in the history of the Church. Her prayers were also instrumental in the conversion of her husband, a lifelong pagan who was baptized just before his death.
The St. Monica’s Prayer Group at Our Lady of Good Hope Parish in Fort Wayne is following the faithful saint’s example. The group gathers weekly to pray for the special intention of Catholics who have fallen away from their faith to return to full communion in the Church.
The group was founded in 2010 at Our Lady of Good Hope by John Paul Jones, who passed into eternal life in December of 2019. “He wanted to create a group to pray for people who have fallen away,” said Linda Jones, John Paul’s widow. “He did a lot of work to get all the prayers together. Then he put a simple announcement in the parish bulletin and people started coming, and we’ve kept it up every Friday since then.”
“For many years, we consistently had five or six people attending regularly,” said Karen Trahin, another member of the group. “We typically have a small core group who attends every week, with a few others attending when they can. But lately, we’ve had weeks with 10 to 20 people, so the group is growing. There’s more awareness of the group and the need for this special prayer intention, and more people are coming because they realize that prayer works.”
“We’re praying that fallen-away Catholics will at least give a thought to coming back. God can work with any little bit of hope,” said Linda. “We’re praying for everyone in the parish who knows someone who has fallen away and hopes to see them come home.”
“In our meetings, we sometimes ask the group if anyone has good news to share, and members share as much or as little as they feel comfortable sharing. But the main focus of our meetings is on prayer.”
At each gathering, the group prays a Novena to St. Monica, the Returning Catholics Prayer, and the Prayer for Conversion of Sinners, along with the prayers of the rosary. The four mysteries are rotated each week and members are encouraged to participate by leading the group in a decade of the rosary.
“We are hopefully working towards getting souls back into the Church,” said Trahin.
“And we are hoping this will bear some fruit, but it is all in God’s time. St. Monica prayed for many years before St. Augustine came to the Church,” added Linda.
While not everyone is likely to become a Doctor of the Church like St. Augustine, Jesus assures the faithful that, “There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.” – Luke 15:7
The St. Monica’s Prayer Group at Our Lady of Good Hope Parish in Fort Wayne meets in the parish library from 9:30-10:15 a.m. every Friday following the 9 a.m. Mass. The meetings are informal and there is no commitment, and new members are welcome to attend as their schedules allow.
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