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Following Mary’s Lead

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Since its publication in 1843, St. Louis de Montfort’s book True Devotion to Mary has inspired Catholics to grow closer to Christ through his Blessed Mother. Anne Collins, a parishioner at St. Gertrude Church in Madeira, encountered the book in the 90s after learning about Pope St. John Paul II’s motto, “Totus Tuus” (Totally Yours), which comes from de Montfort’s book. It had such a profound effect on her life that she made her first total consecration to Jesus through Mary in 1996.

For 10 years, she reread the book each Lent, renewing her consecration privately. While participating in a women’s group focused on Pope St. John Paul II, the topic turned to Mary. “I was really quiet at first [in the group],” Collins said. “They always say, ‘She was so quiet. She didn’t say anything. She just sat there.’ Then we got to the Marian year and I wouldn’t shut up. I just had so much to share about the book and [the other members] were just blown away.”

The women’s group asked Collins to prepare a study guide and lead them on the topic of Marian Consecration. “It started out [with just] 12 or 15 women in somebody’s home,” Collins said. “We went around the circle reading the book line by line. … From there, each year it got a little bigger.”

Collins’ efforts received a boost when she received access to the notes of Montfort Missionaries Father Patrick Gaffney, SMM, who was editor for the Montfort Fathers’ magazine for many years. His notes were a significant help.

Educated at St. Mary’s College in South Bend, IN, Collins’ major was not in theology. “Even a math major can do this,” she said of the consecration and her promotion efforts. “I am a shy person, but Mary and Jesus have helped me to step out.”

For the next 10 years, Collins led the preparation for others’ consecrations. After initially hosting the program in homes, she moved to St. Gertrude’s library then to the church itself as the crowd grew. She ended up giving talks on the topic at various parishes. In her final year of leading preparations live, she estimated 300 people attended at three locations.

For the last 10 years, Collins has used pre-recorded videos of her presentations. In St. Louis de Montfort’s book, the consecration is suggested as a 33-day process. In Collins’ program, there are 17 two-hour videos, one viewed each week at St. Gertrude. She stays to answer questions after the videos.

While incalculable people around the world have made this and other consecrations to Mary, Collins shares a common objection: People believe it’s only for the very holy. She insists it is for everyone, as Christ gave Mary to be a mother for all of us when she stood at the foot of the cross.

“I tell people this is not about doing anything,” Collins said. “This is just about asking the mother who’s already your mother to just draw a little closer and basically to comfort you. Who doesn’t need comfort, you know? She’s so gentle, and she helps everyone, and she meets you where you are. So, it doesn’t matter where you are in your spiritual life. … It’s not about doing anything. It’s about knowing that you’re loved and it’s about believing God’s promises are true. As you do it and you grow, you’re just going to hear your guardian angel better.” Now, almost 30 years since her first consecration, Collins plans to continue her program, with no immediate end in sight.

“I’ll keep doing it as long as Mary asks me to do it,” Collins said.

This article appeared in the May 2024 edition of The Catholic Telegraph Magazine. For your complimentary subscription, click here.


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