By Rob Grant
FALL RIVER — The Legion of Mary’s founder Frank Duff followed the science of the saints, specifically St. Louis Marie de Montfort, whose handbook Legion of Mary members read weekly at meetings before performing two hours of a Spiritual Work of Mercy. “The Legion of Mary makes saints by the bushels,” Duff once famously said.
On March 26, Father Thomas Steinke I.V.E. presided at The Acies at St. Mary’s of the Assumption Cathedral in Fall River. The Acies is the annual event at which legionaries re-dedicate themselves in the service of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Father Steinke spoke about the history of the Legion of Mary and then urged attendees to make a Consecration to the Blessed Mother and to promote others to consecrate themselves to Mary as well. Legion of Mary Members normally make their consecration under the “vexillum” or “banner” of the Blessed Virgin Mary, where she is depicted overshadowed by the Holy Spirit. Before her, they say the words from St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort’s consecration formula: “I am all yours My Queen, my Mother, and all that I have is yours.”
Praying members, referred to as Auxiliaries, some of whom were also in attendance at the Cathedral, approach the vexillum and while holding it address the Blessed Virgin Mary by asking, “Mary Immaculate, Mediatrix of all graces, pray for us.”
Father Steinke said that Duff understood the Acies ceremony as “an army set in battle array” while he regarded each praesidium, a group of legionaries who meet at the various parishes in the Diocese of Fall River, as an “outpost garrison.”
Father Steinke said that just as graces are given at the weekly presidium meetings to help active legionaries to carry out their Spiritual Work of Mercy assignments for the week, the graces given at the annual Acies help them to perform their works throughout the entire year.
After the Acies ceremony, there was a collation where Sister Elaine Orlowski of Our Lady Queen of Peace praesidium in Fairhaven — the longest-serving praesidium in the Diocese of Fall River — gave brief remarks describing how the increase in numbers with the diocese’s newest presidium, Our Lady of Good Counsel at St. Anthony in New Bedford, where Father Steinke serves as parochial vicar, “reminds me of the old days.”
Legionaries expressed their hope that other new praesidiums will be formed in the diocese and that pastors will recognize that Legionaries can serve as the “hands and feet of the pastor” knocking on doors throughout the parish and carrying out the ever needed work of evangelization and formation.
Rob Grant is Curia President of the Legion of Mary. Contact him at 508-525-6430 for a Tessera prayer leaflet if you interested in becoming an auxiliary or to inquire about becoming an active member.