Children of Mary spread love, reverence for Eucharist
By Eileen Connelly, OSU
The Catholic Telegraph
God’s call for each of use is special and often surprising.
One example is the story of a young woman from Massachusetts, who grew up in a family that didn’t practice a particular religion. She “met the Lord” on a Cursillo weekend and converted to Catholicism at the age of 19. She graduated from UMASS Amherst with bachelor’s degrees in Dance and psychology and worked in both fields. She received a miraculous healing on Thanksgiving 2009 while making a private retreat at the motherhouse of the Sisters of Children of Mary, in Newark, Ohio, and entered the community on the eve of Corpus Christ in June 2010.
Today Sister Agnes Immaculate serves as novice mistress for the Children of Mary, an emerging, semi-contemplative religious community with the mission of spreading love and reverence for the eucharistic Lord that recently established its novitiate in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and hopes to draw other women to join them.
The Children of Mary opened their first daughter house at Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Center in Norwood last fall. Under the patronage of St. Therese, the house will be a place where their novices can dedicate themselves to prayer and study in preparation for their profession. They live in a cloistered area while helping maintain the perpetual adoration chapel and participating in educational opportunities.
Currently comprised of 14 sisters, the community was established at the suggestion of Bishop James A. Griffin, then bishop of Columbus. He consecrated Mary Jane Goffena, giving her the religious name of Margaret Mary, on Jan. 17, 2002. From its beginning, the Children of Mary has been a private association of the faithful recognized by the bishop and is now under the spiritual direction of Columbus Bishop Frederick Campbell.
“The Eucharist is Jesus, and He thirsts for our love,” said Mother Margaret Mary. “We want to shout from the rooftops and get as many people as we can to join us in our cry: ‘Jesus, we love you in the Most Blessed Sacrament!’ God is with us in the most holy Eucharist, and, as St. Augustine said, “We must adore Him before we receive Him.’ It is the same Jesus who hung on the cross and shed every drop of His divine, precious blood for us, and the more who love and adore Him, the more peace will come to hearts, families, and nations.”
The sisters’ daily schedule is a balance of prayer, adoration, work and holy leisure.
“We dedicate so much time to just being with the Lord,” Sister Agnes Immaculae explained. “Our whole charism is to spread knowledge of Him and love for Him in the Eucharist.
“Our eucharistic Lord is the heart of the church and the heart of the world,” she added. “But His heart is wounded by sacrilege and indifference. Spreading love for Him…that’s what will make a difference and bring people true happiness. He is the answer for everything. If people will come to know His true presence, then He will always be present to him. We are telling people in love that we want them to experience His love and have that fullness of life.”
The sisters’ prayer apostolates are centered on praying for priests, prayer for the universal enthronement of Jesus on the altars of the world — that He will be loved and adored by His People and peace will come to earth — and praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy with those who are dying.
Their active apotolates include conducting healing holy hours, retreats, talks and conferences for individuals or small groups. Their presentations usually focus on the indwelling of the Holy Trinity in the soul (living in the state of grace), the meaning of the Mass, sin and the sacrament of reconciliation and, the Eucharist and the Blessed Mother. They also work among the elderly, reassuring them their lives have perhaps more meaning and value now than ever before and helping them find grace, peace and joy. In ministering to the poor at soup kitchens or in prison, the Sisters strive to bring them the good news that God is with them, loves them and longs for their love.
At a soup kitchen in Columbus, they set up an adoration chapel, distributed rosaries and taught clients about the Catholic faith. They may also establish schools of evangelization and/or temporary housing for women; participants would expected to share in at least some of the prayer life of the sisters and required to take part in daily Mass and at least some period of silent adoration, and the rosary.
The community has scheduled an overnight “come and see” discernment retreat for May 31, leaving the Holy Spirit Center at 7:30 a.m. with Mass at 10:30 at the motherhouse. The retreat will include prayer, recreation, and more. Participants will return to the Holy Spirit Center Sunday evening. To register, call 513-713 -7413.
In addition to their motherhouse and the novitiate, the community plans to soon open a third house in Columbus to continue their work with the poor. For more information about the Children of Mary or to order prayer cards, CDs or DVDs, visit their website.
This article originally appeared in the May 2014 print edition of The Catholic Telegraph.