By Joan D. Warren, special to The Anchor
SEEKONK — Prayer is universal. Some pray while in the shower, before bed, while driving. Prayer can be a personal time of reflection, or an outward expression shared by fellow worshipers.
Within the Diocese of Fall River, many parishes have vibrant prayer groups that have one common denominator — praying as a community of believers.
At Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Seekonk and St. Patrick’s Parish in Wareham, prayer groups are thriving, but each with its own purpose and intention.
Our Lady of Mount Carmel has more than one prayer group: The Intercessory Prayer Ministry, Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, Holy Souls Prayer Group and the Men’s Prayer and Fellowship. Although each has a different format, they all the same outcome — to give thanks to the Lord and pray.
The Intercessory Prayer Group at Our Lady of Mount Carmel has been meeting since 1976. COVID interrupted the in-person meetings, changing the format to an online Zoom call on Monday mornings.
“The grace of it is so simple — just a willingness to pray,” said Barbara Craveiro. “You do your best and let God do the rest.”
The Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament takes place in the St. Joseph Chapel of the church around the clock. About 25 members strong, there is always someone committed to in-person praying for an hour’s time.
Craveiro explained that prayer petitions can do wondrous things. “We prayed for a young man with cancer for a year and he recently finished his last treatment. He is doing well. That is the power of prayer. We are blessed to have dedicated people praying 24/7 in intercessory prayer. It is gratifying to know that God listens to our prayers,” she said.
The prayer list is shared among the faithful, and some families keep it on their refrigerator and pray together at mealtime.
“The ministry is a blessing to the parish and it’s interesting to see how each person is called to pray,” she added. “People join us from other ministries and come from outside the parish to keep vigil in the chapel.”
The Holy Souls in Purgatory Prayer Group meets for about an hour Thursday mornings in the church at 9 a.m. The group of about 10 people offer prayers for all the souls in purgatory. The group was formed five years ago by parishioner Pam Potenza, who learned about the ministry from a parish she attends in Florida.
Liz Day and Carolyn Wentworth are devoted members of this group. They said the ministry is important to them and fills them with the purpose of helping the souls in purgatory get to Heaven.
“There is a misunderstanding about purgatory. Souls in purgatory can’t pray for themselves and depend on us and those in Heaven to pray for them. They can pray for us although, which is comforting” Day said.
Wentworth is committed to the group after finding the need for a closer relationship with God.
“I had just lost my husband and was attending daily Mass, she said. “The prayer group has given me a sense of peace and strength to go on. Praying with others is comforting.”
Another prayer group at the Seekonk parish is the Men’s Prayer and Fellowship. They have been gathering since 2004 after attending the annual National Men’s Conference in Boston.
William Kearney, one of the leaders of the ministry, said about six to eight men gather the first Saturday of the month after attending the 9 a.m. Mass, and discuss the readings for the Sunday Mass the following day.
“Everyone takes turns reading followed by spiritual discussion and how the readings affect us. Deacon Matt Sweeney is with us, and we talk about his homily when he is preaching. We typically meet for about an hour-and-a-half,” Kearney said.
Many in the men’s group also participate in the Men of St. Joseph prayer ministry. Meeting the second Thursday of the month, the purpose is to strengthen their spiritual leadership and to share with family and others in their lives.
“This is a bit more in-depth,” Kearney added. “We all read the same books and have homework assignments. We have studied the Ministry of the ‘Wild Goose’ video series by Father Dave Pivonka. This brings us closer to the Holy Spirit.”
At St. Patrick’s Parish in Wareham, the Charismatic Prayer Group has been meeting weekly on Thursday evenings since 1996. This form of prayer includes singing praise and worship music, praying, sharing Scripture verse, reading of psalms, and discussion. The group sprang from the Life in the Spirit Seminar that the church has offered a few times each year. The seminar is a seven-week program designed to form a closer relationship with the Holy Spirit and make a commitment to serve God.
Robin Rumboldt, one of the leaders of the group said building community is one of the reasons she participates.
“Collectively, we share our faith and how Jesus Christ has affected our lives and helps to build a closer relationship with God,” she said.
Rumboldt has witnessed so many positive outcomes from the seminar, including parishioners who heard the call to take on active roles in other church ministries.
“After attending the seminar, some parishioners felt a calling to become involved and are now lectors, Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion and have become involved at St. Patrick’s,” Rumboldt said.
To learn more about these prayer groups and how to bring them to your parish, visit their websites at:
Our Lady of Mount Carmel: www.olmcseekonk.org
St Patrick’s Church: www.stpatrickswareham.org