In the many places we’ve called home, we have always drawn close to and been blessed by our parish priests. They have been there during some the most important and intimate moments of our family’s life. They have been our friends, brothers, and true fathers. We do what we can to serve our dear priests in supporting our parish financially, serving in a variety of functions, and inviting them into our home for meals, but none of these gifts replaces the one thing we can all do for our self-sacrificing shepherds. They need our constant support in prayer, now more than ever.
Our priests and the priesthood have taken a beating over the years; between scandal, dwindling flocks, and now an insidious virus ravages their ministries. Our churches have been shut down for weeks only to reopen with seemingly burdensome restrictions. Priests have had to become ever more creative in finding ways to serve their parishioners. It must be exhausting and at times disheartening.
Just weeks before Masses were suspended, I was introduced to a beautiful apostolate dedicated to praying for the priesthood. The Seven Sisters Apostolate seeks to cover priests in prayer seven days a week, 365 days a year. Seven women commit to one holy hour a week on a specific day, praying exclusively for their particular priest and his priesthood.
Since its founding in 2011, Seven Sisters has established sisterhoods praying for over 1300 bishops and priests worldwide. There is at least one sisterhood in every state in the US with the exception of Rhode Island (hint, hint Rhode Island Sistas!). Obviously the ultimate goal is for every priest and bishop in every diocese to have a sisterhood covering them in prayer. It is such a lovely and powerful way to uplift our priests and support them spiritually. Our own priest has expressed his deep gratitude for the support.
Each group is founded by an Anchoress who recruits members, passes on needed information, and communicates the existence and intentions of the group to the particular priest. Communiques are sent from the foundress once a month with encouragement and updates on new locations, and any other pertinent information. Sisters select a particular day and spend any one hour that day in front of the Blessed Sacrament (ideal) or in a Church in praying exclusively for their priest. Such a simple setup for such a beautiful offering.
If you have a soft spot in your heart for priests, prayerfully consider anchoring your own Seven Sisters Apostolate in your parish. To learn more about establishing a group and any other information you might need visit the website at: www.sevensistersapostolate.org. Every priest could benefit greatly from this spiritual gift.
O Almighty and Eternal God, look upon the Face of Thy Christ, and for love of Him Who is the eternal High-priest, have pity on Thy priests. Remember, O most compassionate God, that they are but weak and frail human beings. Stir up in them the grace of their vocation which is in them by the imposition of the Bishop’s hands. Keep them close to Thee, lest the enemy prevail against them, so that they may never do anything in the slightest degree unworthy of their sublime vocation.
O Jesus, I pray Thee for Thy faithful and fervent priests; for Thy unfaithful and tepid priests; for Thy priests laboring at home or abroad in distant mission fields; for Thy tempted priests; for Thy lonely and desolate priests; for Thy young priests; for Thy aged priests; for Thy sick priests; for Thy dying priests; for the souls of Thy priests in Purgatory.
But above all I commend to Thee the priests dearest to me: the priest who baptized me; the priests at whose Masses I assisted and who gave me Thy Body and Blood in Holy Communion; the priests who taught and instructed or helped me and encouraged me; all the priests to whom I am indebted in any other way, particularly (your priest’s name here). O Jesus, keep them all close to Thy heart, and bless them abundantly in time and in eternity. Amen. Mary, Queen of the clergy, pray for us; obtain for us many and holy priests. Amen.