The Society of St. Monica was founded in the 1980s by Father Dennis McNeil, who today is pastor of St. Robert Bellarmine Church in Euclid, Ohio.

He calls it “an organization with no meetings or dues.” Its purpose is to pray for the return of fallen away Catholics to the practice of their faith. It's secondary aim is to provide support and sometimes fellowship for Catholics whose loved ones have wandered away from the Church.

The requirements for membership are simple: to recite daily the society's prayer for fallen away Catholics, and to remember at Mass society members around the world four times a year — on the last Sundays of March, June, September and December.

The Society of St. Monica has adherents in every state and in many other countries as well. In some areas, independent parish chapters have formed, and these meet for prayer and fellowship.

Connie Limtiaco has run a St. Monica group in St. Edward's parish in Newark, Calif., for nine years. One of her adult children had left the Catholic Church for a Protestant sect.

Her son has not yet returned, but, “I believe God works in mysterious ways. Maybe he's using my situation so that so many others are now being prayed for. Other people in our group have gotten their children or relatives back through praying to St. Monica. I just have to keep praying and never give up, just like she did.

Prayer of the Society of St. Monica

Eternal and merciful Father, I give you thanks for the gift of your divine Son Who suffered, died, and rose for all mankind. I thank you also for my Catholic faith, and ask your help that I may grow in fidelity by prayer, by works of charity, and penance, by reflection on Your word, and by regular participation in the Sacraments of Penance and the Holy Eucharist.

You gave St. Monica a spirit of selfless love manifested in her constant prayer for the conversion of her son, Augustine. Inspired by boundless confidence in Your power to move hearts, and by the success of her prayer, I ask the grace to imitate her constancy in my prayer for (N.), who no longer shares in the life of Your Catholic family. Grant that through my prayer and witness (he/she/they) may be open to the promptings of Your Holy Spirit to return to loving union with Your people. Grant also that my prayer be ever hopeful and that I may never judge another, for You alone can read hearts.

I ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.