Celeste Behe is a logophile, Toastmaster, humorist, speaker, nostalgist, and Bronx-born Calabrese who talks with her hands and writes from her heart. She is a Register correspondent and longtime contributor to Catholic Digest. Her articles have also appeared in Lay Witness and Canticle magazines, and online at Catholic Mom and Catholic Exchange. A female Walter Mitty with a penchant for storytelling, Celeste especially enjoys sharing personal tales of a life well flubbed. She is a veteran homeschooler with 24 years down and six to go, and she’s got the jitters to prove it. Celeste and her husband Mike live in Bethlehem, PA with eight of their nine children.
“Prayer is real.”
It was a simple message that might well have been delivered from the balcony of St. Peter's Basilica by humble Pope Francis.
But the venue was a school in New York City, and the speaker was Christine Rich, co-founder of “wearable blessings” producer My Saint My Hero.
The third- and fourth-graders at East Harlem’s Our Lady, Queen of Angels School received the message with open hearts. They were preparing for a visit from Pope Francis and were praying for him. On the students’ wrists were the World Meeting of Families bracelets that Rich had given to the children and which will be blessed by the Holy Father during his visit to the school tomorrow.
“We reminded them all of how real prayer is and how it truly works,” said Rich, “and to remember to pray each time they looked at their bracelets: to pray for Pope Francis and to pray for their own families.”
The bracelets consist of colorful cotton cording centered with the official Pope Francis medal for the World Meeting for Families. The medal was created by My Saint My Hero for the WMOF’s executive team.
Said co-founder Amy D'Ambra, “We presented our work to our beloved Archbishop [Jose] Gomez (of Los Angeles) and shared our dream of creating wearable blessings that people could wear as a reminder to pray with and for Pope Francis, his journey to the U.S. and the sanctity of marriage. Eventually, we met with the team at World Meeting of Families and learned that they were seeking an artist for their commemorative medal. We had a Vatican artist, Mariangela, create the most beautiful rendition of Pope Francis, and that design was chosen.”
The medal was presented to Pope Francis during a recent audience.
“It was the honor of a lifetime to be with the Holy Father in Rome and have him bless our work,” said Rich. “It was so impactful to hear his only words in English that day, which he said directly to me: ‘Pray for me.’ This is exactly what we hope that everyone wearing one of the pieces will remember to do.”
Rich stressed that, although it produces jewelry, My Saint My Hero isn’t about accessories; rather, “it’s all about prayer.”
The company’s products are designed to function as “‘fitbits’ of prayer,” after the FitBit tracking device that helps the wearer to build a healthy lifestyle.
Explained company CEO Thomas Yep, “Our bracelets and every piece we create help both to remind us of our true identity and build more prayerful and God-centered lifestyles. That’s why we often refer to our pieces as ‘prayerable tech.’”
My Saint My Hero’s products — including pieces like the aptly named “Breathe Blessing Bracelet” — are meant to help the wearer build an “internal discipline” that will allow God’s presence to permeate every moment of his or her day.
Continued Yep, “We have received so many graces through our participation in the World Meeting of Families. Reflecting on those graces, we wanted to give back, and the Harlem school was an obvious choice. Those schoolchildren opened up their hearts to Pope Francis, so we wanted to open up ours to them, too.”
“We love our beloved Holy Father and have been so grateful for the opportunity to continuing spreading the message of both our missions: that God is real, prayer works, and love heals.”