May 1, 2022 | Local News
Fr. Stephen Van Lal Than

Fr. John Thomas, rector of St. Stephen Cathedral in Owensboro, opens the cathedral’s prayer service in unity with Pope Francis’ March 25, 2022 Act of Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. ELIZABETH WONG BARNSTEAD | WKC

Turning ‘once again’ to Mary’s maternal care, western Kentuckians pray for Ukraine, Russia in unity with Pope Francis


As she walked into St. Stephen Cathedral in Owensboro on March 25, 2022, Sr. Monica Seaton, OSU, “was moved when I saw so many people filling the pews to pray for peace.”

“At times when our Church, nation, and world seem fractured, it was hopeful to know so many joined together globally to pray for our sisters and brothers in countries far away,” said Sr. Seaton, who attended the cathedral’s participation in Pope Francis’ prayer of consecration of Russia, Ukraine and the whole world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

The Act of Consecration took place on the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, which tradition says is the day that the archangel Gabriel came to Our Lady to ask her if she would be the mother of God.

In his consecration prayer, the text of which was sent out to all bishops and priests of the world, Pope Francis entrusted the world to Mary’s guidance and model of peace.

“O Mary, Mother of God and our Mother, in this time of trial we turn to you. As our Mother, you love us and know us: no concern of our hearts is hidden from you. Mother of mercy, how often we have experienced your watchful care and your peaceful presence! You never cease to guide us to Jesus, the Prince of Peace,” the prayer began.

Several parishes of the Diocese of Owensboro held prayer services and distributed the prayer’s text so that the faithful could pray along in spirit with the pope, who led the consecration at 5 p.m. Rome time, or 11 a.m. Central Time.

Linda Bratton, a parishioner of St. John the Evangelist in Paducah, attended her parish’s prayer service for the consecration that day. She said they gathered at 10:30 a.m. for Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, and prayed a rosary led by their pastor, Fr. Bruce Fogle. Together they prayed the act of consecration prayer at 11 a.m.

“As he announced the mysteries, Father said a special prayer for peace and for the souls of both the Russian and Ukrainian soldiers – that they are not our rivals but our brothers,” said Bratton.

She said that praying with others “in union with the pope was extremely meaningful and left a sense of peace. We were doing everything we could to help the people of Ukraine.”

Fr. Fogle said they had set up a statue of Our Lady of Fatima near the altar, explaining that having a depiction of Mary close to the Blessed Sacrament was significant since as the pope’s prayer stated that, “she brought the Prince of Peace into the world.”

“That was a beautiful prayer, speaking about how we’ve broken our relationship with God and how God reaches out to us – and how the Blessed Mother reaches out to bring us closer to Christ,” said Fr. Fogle.

He pointed out the different Marian motifs used throughout the prayer of consecration, such as Our Lady of Guadalupe’s words to St. Juan Diego, “Am I not here, I who am your Mother?”; the devotion to Our Lady Undoer of Knots being able to “untie the knots of our hearts and of our times”; and multiple references to Our Lady of Fatima, who originally requested the consecration of Russia.

 A man prays the rosary during St. Stephen Cathedral’s prayer service in unity with Pope Francis’ March 25, 2022 Act of Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. ELIZABETH WONG BARNSTEAD | WKC

Fr. Fogle added that it is also important, in following the advice of Our Lady of Fatima, to dedicate the first Saturday of the month for five consecutive months to prayer, confession and attending Mass.

St. Joseph Parish in Bowling Green and the diocesan Marian Shrine (located on the parish’s campus) also held a prayer service in unity with the pope’s act of consecration.

Fr. Corey D. Bruns, parochial vicar at St. Joseph, said the church was “packed” with “around 300 people” consisting of parishioners, Bowling Green residents, the middle school students from St. Joseph Interparochial School (which shares a campus with the parish) and visiting students and parents from Owensboro.

“I exposed the Blessed Sacrament and invited the congregation to kneel and join me as I lay prostrate in an act of penance for a few minutes before reciting the Act of Consecration together in common,” said Fr. Bruns.

He said it was an overcast and cloudy day, but everyone commented on the beauty of the final paragraph of the Act of Consecration: “… In your womb Jesus took flesh; help us to foster the growth of communion. You once trod the streets of our world; lead us now on the paths of peace. Amen.”

The Passionist Nuns of St. Joseph Monastery in Whitesville hosted a prayer service in unity with the consecration as well, and welcomed visitors to the monastery to pray with them.

Sr. Miriam Esther Krauskopf, CP, said the monastery always has Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament every Friday for several hours, which offered a perfect occasion to incorporate the pope’s consecration.

“Our retreatants and some local Catholics joined us in our monastery chapel for the occasion,” said Sr. Krauskopf. “At 11 a.m. Central Time, our chaplain (Fr. Lou Caporiccio, CPM), invited all present to unite our prayers and intentions with those of Pope Francis and the bishops and faithful of the world. Then, in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament and our large statue of Our Lady of Fatima, he and the Sisters recited the consecration prayer.”

Mother John Mary Read, CP, mother superior of the Passionist community, said it was “a consolation to entrust the world and especially the Ukraine and Russia to Our Lady… May she help us to tap into that power through our prayer and self-offering, and that all peoples be inspired to use their gifts of nature and grace to bring peace to the world.”

Bishop William F. Medley was unable to attend the consecration at St. Stephen Cathedral due to being out of town for a workshop, but paused at 11 a.m. to pray in unity with the pope and the rest of the world.

“As children and truly even as adults, during times of great anxiety and apprehension, our instinct is to turn to our mother for assurance,” he told The Western Kentucky Catholic. “Given the tragic events unfolding in Ukraine, it is only natural that the Holy Father prompts us to turn once again to the Mother of the Church seeking her comfort and protection.  May she listen attentively to the prayers of her children.”

Sr. Seaton said that as she prayed with the faithful gathered in the cathedral, led by cathedral rector Fr. John Thomas, “I was reminded that a transformation of heart is a call for each of us.”

She said one line from the prayer struck her profoundly: “May your maternal touch soothe those who suffer and flee from the rain of bombs.”

“In my lifetime, I have never had to experience anything like this,” said Sr. Seaton. “I pray for the day when all of humanity can live united, without fear.  Until that day, I call on the guidance of Mary, our Mother, knowing that her constant presence with us will hopefully lead to conversion and peace.”

Originally printed in the May 2022 issue of The Western Kentucky Catholic.

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