From Fr. Michael E. Gaitley, MIC, author of the po... Read more
The Connections Kept Adding Up
By Mary Flournoy
I'm still in my first year here at the Marian Helper Center, and I have learned that the Marian Fathers, the staff, and all the Marian Helpers from near and far are truly a family of faith, joined by our devotion to the Merciful Lord and Our Lady and by our prayers for one another. I have also come to appreciate how many spiritual avenues bring us together, based on how multi-faceted our ministries are.
One Marian Helper who illustrates this is Jeanne Lewis of Florida (pictured above with her husband, Chris). Jeanne's first connection to the Marians came when she heard of Divine Mercy from a group of nuns who shared the incredible story of St. Faustina. Even without reading the diary in question — the Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska — from cover to cover, the message of Divine Mercy stayed with Jeanne. When she heard powerful stories about people's experiences with St. Faustina's revelations, it woke her up, she said. She bought a Divine Mercy Image and had her whole family sign it. It hangs in her bedroom.
Next, she bought a CD of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy in song, and she played it as she picked up her two youngest children from high school. "They were not thrilled at first, but they really know their Divine Mercy Chaplet," she said with a laugh.
On that same CD, Dr. Bryan Thatcher discusses his Marian apostolate work with the Eucharistic Apostles of The Divine Mercy (EADM), but she had not realized that he lived nearby, and in fact, friends of hers had helped set up the local EADM prayer cenacle! She was astonished by how the connections with the Marians kept adding up.
Next, Jeanne attended a parish retreat based on 33 Days to Morning Glory, written by Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC. The experience was transformative. "Once you get it, you want to share it with everyone!" she said. "I always had a devotion to Mary, but I never fully understood her role."
In 2015, Fr. Mike came to her parish, St. Stephen in Valrico, Florida. Jeanne's husband, Chris, attended the presentation. He was so inspired that he and Jeanne held a 33 Days to Morning Glory Retreat in their home. As a result, more than 20 people consecrated themselves to Jesus through Mary! "The retreats encourage us to come together as a true family in Christ," Jeanne said.
Then, when Jeanne's mother-in-law, Susan, was dying of pancreatic cancer this past spring, her family prayed the Divine Mercy Chaplet at her bedside, which "gave us incredible peace and hope."
The Lewises are also connected to the Marian seminarians. Brother Tim, MIC, a Catholic convert, now calls St. Stephen his home parish. But his story is for another day!
Yet another level of commitment to the Marians, our ministries, and the faith came when Jeanne and Chris decided to leave a percentage of their life insurance to the Marians.
Thanks for sharing your story, Jeanne, and may God continue to bless our Marian family in our collaborative work for Christ and his Church!
Mary Flournoy is a donor relations officer for the Marians. Contact her at: Association of Marian Helpers, Stockbridge, MA 01263; firstname.lastname@example.org; or (413) 298-1381. Visit our website: marian.org/plannedgiving.