When Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan., consecrated the school to the Blessed Mother on Sept. 8, 2013, now-new graduate Mary Minnis, the daughter of Benedictine President Stephen Minnis, asked herself: “How do I do this? How do I live this out?” She came up with the answer: “I give everything to Our Lady.”
To help others the same way, in her sophomore year, Minnis began a Marian group for women named FIAT, standing for Filiae Immaculatum Ad Testandum, loosely translated as “Daughters who bear witness to the Immaculate.”
The first year, it drew 10-15 consistently. This past year as a senior, Minnis “started praying the Rosary every single day for increase of the group and consistency,” she said. It flourished to a consistent 40-50 girls. “It was amazing,” she said.
The young women “are pointing to Mary and saying, ‘You need to be like Our Lady.’” Members consecrate themselves to Mary. Twenty did so this year.
People can tell the difference when “you have a strong model in your life, and Mary is totally perfect. She’s not going to lead you astray in any way,” explained Minnis.
Minnis isn’t the only Millennial (the generation born between 1980 and 2000) drawn to honor the Blessed Mother in a special way. Many young people are reigniting age-old Marian devotions and inviting their peers to join them.
Junior Logan McCully is co-lead knight of the Knights of the Mystical Rose at Benedictine. He looks forward to Tuesday meetings when members pray the Rosary, hear a small talk and socialize.
The Knights’ trifold purpose is to be a Marian group, stand for purity and be a brotherhood. That purpose leads to a special goal of protecting, praying for and helping women. “We pray the Rosary for ourselves, for all the men on campus and all the women on campus, so that we may maintain our purity and holiness, which is our first vocation,” McCully explained.
His devotion to Mary has grown through the group. “It’s very rarely I say a prayer without asking for Our Lady’s intercession: [usually] ‘Our Lady of the Mystical Rose, pray for me; pray for us,’” McCully explained. “Each prayer that I say I give to Our Lady, because I trust she’s going to put it to where it’s most needed.”
New college graduate Molly Clarahan, 2015-16 student coordinator of the “Handmaids of the Lord” household at Franciscan University of Steubenville, said the members are devoted “to Our Lady through her fiat and the mystery of the Annunciation.” The members of this household, a community designed to foster friendships and provide students with spiritual support, profess St. Louis de Montfort’s Marian consecration and look to “the virtue of humility” as their major focus.
As Clarahan said, “Once you encounter Our Lady, not only does she lead you in the spiritual life to Christ, but she’s also practical. A lot of the time you look at the world around you and it seems like chaos, and she is a strength you can rely on. She appeared in different areas of the world, and she has never abandoned the people.”
It’s important to realize Marian consecration is not a one-time devotion, she noted. “It’s a whole way of being where you just become the servant of the handmaid of the Lord and entrust yourself to Our Lady’s care, knowing she will always bring you to Christ.”
Being adopted from China, Clarahan has a Marian devotion that includes Our Lady of China; after she and fiancé Michael are married in August, they will spend a year in China working with orphans who have disabilities.
On the men’s side of Marian devotion at Steubenville, 21-year-old Jonah Soucy has been part of the Knights of the Holy Queen male household.
“I always knew Mary was my mother,” Soucy said. “Even praying Hail Marys through the day helped me through the temptations and trials in high school.”
His devotion has grown in college, as he joined a “household that would push me more in holiness and would help me grow a strong relationship with Mary.” Grown he has, from praying a daily Rosary to making sure he honors “things like accountability, charity and prayer, praying together as a household to Mary and asking for her intercession,” Soucy said.
With Mary’s knights, he has helped spread devotion to her on campus. Said Soucy, “She leads us so much closer to God than we can do on our own.”
The Notre Dame Militia of the Immaculata (NDMI) at the University of Notre Dame has aided Ryan Kerr’s Marian devotion. As a senior in the fall, he will be NDMI’s evangelization commissioner.
When his dad was in critical condition in the hospital, Kerr prayed at the campus’ Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes. He recalled, “I had Mary in front of me, the Sacred Heart behind me, and St. Joseph looking in the distance to where my father was. I had the Holy Family around me. That year, I started praying through the intercession of St. Joseph and Mary as a couple — my first step toward Marian devotion.”
When Kerr joined NDMI, his Marian devotion grew. Now, he prays the Rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet most days, always thinking of Mary standing next to Christ at Calvary. “I’m trying to do it as she did, staying by him at his cross,” Kerr explained.
This past year, he encouraged four people to make the consecration to Mary on the feast of the Immaculate Conception.
During game days in the fall, he and other group members are at the grotto, handing out free rosaries and Miraculous Medals and talking to people about their meaning.
He hopes to plan public recitation of the Hail Mary on the campus’ South Quad this coming school year, as well as encourage more students in Marian consecration on the feast of the Immaculate Conception. “In the consecration to Mary, you actually offer up all of your prayers to be used and mediated out by Mary. No matter what intention, she uses that for the best,” he said.
As a member of the Children of Mary at Notre Dame, William McDonald has kept the devotion to Mary instilled in him during his home-schooling years. “A couple of years ago, my family started doing a family Rosary together during a little prayer time in the morning, in addition to scriptural readings. Now in college, I still strive to pray a Rosary every day,” McDonald said. “The Children of Mary have a Rosary at the grotto of Mary every night, so I usually go to that.”
Among his Marian devotions with the group: a special Mass for the Nativity of Mary on Sept. 8 and birthday cake for her in the dining hall. “And every Sunday evening, we do the Rosary around St. Mary’s Lake,” he said.
He has made his total consecration to Mary and wears a Miraculous Medal. Looking forward to his upcoming sophomore year as the group’s secretary, McDonald added to his Marian devotion as part of NDMI, too; he has also become interested in devotion to Our Lady, Star of the Sea.
At the youngest end of the Millennial spectrum is 16-year-old Tyler Reif, who became involved with the message of Fatima and the Green Bay, Wis., youth division of the World Apostolate of Fatima. He has helped at a Rosary rally at the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in the diocese, and every 13th of the month, from May through October, he helps lead the Rosary there.
Reif looks forward to the visit of the International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima to his area this year, hoping to repeat what he did during a visitation two years ago: hand out rosaries and scapulars.
“It will be good for the youth division to help spread the message of Our Lady, especially with other youth that may come to visit the statue,” he said. “Hearing something from someone your age is a little different than hearing it from an adult.
“If you hear from someone your age, who speaks at your level, they will think, ‘This is good! I should look into this more.’”
Joseph Pronechen is a
Register staff writer.
FIAT group image at Benedictine College, courtesy of Mary Minnis.
Knights of the Holy Queen at Franciscan
University: Jonah Soucy photo;
game-day evangelizing at the
University of Notre Dame. Courtesy
of Ryan Kerr