Jim Graves is a Catholic writer and editor living in Newport Beach, California. He previously served as Managing Editor for the Diocese of Orange Bulletin, the official newspaper of the Diocese of Orange, California. His work has appeared in the National Catholic Register, Our Sunday Visitor, Cal Catholic Daily and Catholic World Report.
May is the month during which Catholics give special honor to Mary. I asked seven prominent Catholics around the U.S. to talk about the influence of devotion to Mary in their lives.
Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, Archdiocese of Louisville, Kentucky
“I am also a big proponent of the Holy Rosary. When I say it, I also have a copy of the priest’s pictorial directory open and pray for each of our priests. Even if I say only one decade, I have a chance to pray for 10 priests.
Anyone can do that with a family album or their parish pictorial directory, as I encourage our priests to do. Bring the pictures of real people with you when you pray. It’s amazing how Christ can speak to us about what we should be doing in our relationship with them, and how we should be grateful to them.”
Bishop Kevin Rhoades, Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana
[Speaking of his decision about going to the seminary] “One day, I was praying at a grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes. I asked for guidance about the priesthood versus getting married. When I thought about becoming a priest, I was flooded by a sense of peace and joy. I had my answer.”
Steve Minnis, president of Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas
Minnis calls the college’s Ravens football team “Mary’s Team.” He credits its success (30-3 in 2019) not only to the team’s talent and hard work, but also to the devotion of its players to the Blessed Mother. He leads students in a Wednesday morning Rosary, which draws much of the team, and the school has been twice consecrated to Mary in recent years. He said, “Mary is watching over us.”
Matthew Arnold (http://www.matthewarnold.org/), a Catholic apologist who has made promotion of Our Lady of Good Success a key part of his apostolate
“I love the Blessed Mother. I believe it was through her intercession I was converted. I said the Rosary even before I was sure I believed. But, early on after my conversion, I steered clear of Marian apparitions.
However, in 1999, someone sent me information on [seer] Mother Mariana. It really resonated with me. Even though the apparition had occurred 400 years before, she had many interesting things to say about the Church of our day, such as a crisis of faith and morals in the Church and in the world. There has been a crisis, which really accelerated in the mid-20th century. We’ve witnessed the coming of the sexual revolution, and a societal upheaval that has been unprecedented. There has been a decline in every measurable statistic relating to the health of the Catholic Church, such as in Mass attendance, numbers of baptisms and Catholic marriages or vocations to the priesthood and religious life.
The Blessed Mother also warned that the Sacrament of Matrimony would be attacked, and iniquitous laws would be passed to make it easy for people to live in sin. These and many other prophecies she made have come true. However, Our Lady of Good Success offers a message of hope, as she says that when all seems lost, there will be a great restoration in the Church.
Ten years ago when I visited Quito I was praying before a statue of Our Lady of Good Success, and while I don’t claim to have heard any voices, I got the impression that Our Lady wanted me to share her message and to do it free of charge. I’ve since traveled internationally sharing the message. I’ve talked in church basements with a few dozen people, and at conferences with 2,500.
The talk seems to resonate with people, particularly because its message is not one that the world is coming to an end, but one of hope. Things may get worse before they get better, but they will turn around.”
Deacon Steve Greco, Spirit Filled Hearts Ministry (www.spiritfilledhearts.org)
“One of the best home prayers for families is the Rosary. In recent Church-approved apparitions of the Blessed Mother, such as at Lourdes and Fatima, Our Lady specifically requested we say five decades of the Rosary daily. It is a powerful spiritual tool for families. I have experienced its power in my own life.
When my children were teenagers, I felt everything I did was wrong. I said, “Green,” and they said, “Red, blue and white!” One day, when I was totally beside myself, I went into a church midday alone and prayed fervently. The Lord came upon me and said, “Pray the Rosary every day for your family and children.” I haven’t missed in 30 years! I thank the Blessed Mother for my blessings that have come upon me and my family.”
Jim Tauzel, superintendent of Catholic schools, Diocese of Rochester
Long before the COVID-19 pandemic, Tauzel launched an online weekly Rosary for its 18 elementary and middle schools to promote devotion to the Blessed Mother.
He said, “I think each of our students who participates gets something out of the Rosary. Seeing their fellow students praying throughout the diocese let them see that the prayers were bigger than themselves, and helped them realize that Mary is waiting there with buckets of grace to give to those who ask.”
Dr. Richard Wetzel (1958-2010), author of Sexual Wisdom
Dr. Wetzel went from being a non-practicing to devout Catholic and a champion of the Church’s moral teaching. He wrote two Sexual Wisdom books, one which used natural law to debunk many modern day misconceptions on sex and the other an aide to teach their teenage children about sex from a Catholic perspective.
Wetzel died at age 52 after a lengthy battle with cancer. During his illness, his wife, Dominique related, Wetzel developed a devotion to the Blessed Mother. He cherished an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe given to him by friends, she related, and recalled, ‘on a trip to the Lourdes grotto at Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, he insisted our family shiver outdoors in the snow while we prayed the Rosary.”