WEST PALM BEACH | On Sept. 7, 2021, the faithful of Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Parish in West Palm Beach gathered to celebrate the 100th centenary of the Legion of Mary, or Legio Mariae.
As the cantor sang “Immaculate Mary,” the Knights of Columbus Honor Guard dressed in full regalia led the procession to the altar with Bishop Gerald M. Barbarito, concelebrating priests and a deacon.
“The Legion was founded in Dublin, Ireland, as a Roman Catholic Marian movement by layman, Frank Duff, making the Legion of Mary the largest apostolic organization of lay people in the Catholic Church,” said Dolores Crane, Holy Name curia president. “To be in the legion one must be a practicing Catholic. The main apostolate of the legion consists in activities directed towards all men and women, young or old, rich or poor, as well as people from all walks of life. The Legion of Mary members give service to the church on a voluntary basis in almost every country in the world.”
Discalced Carmelite Father Antony Pulikal, pastor of Holy Name of Jesus, expressed his support for the celebration.
“As I was growing up in Kerala, India, in my home parish, we had an active Legion of Mary. I am very happy to have one here in our parish. Holy Name Legion of Mary members are very active and helpful in many ways, such as leading our daily rosary, praying the rosary before every funeral Mass, and visiting our homebound parishioners,” he said. “Imagine the good they have done around the world in the last 100 years. It is the celebration of 100 years of blessings given to us by Our Blessed Mother through the members of the Legion of Mary.”
Bishop Barbarito described the celebration as “a wonderful occasion.”
“And as you come together, we give thanks to you for your devotion to Mary and for the example that you set as her followers coming this evening as we pray together offering ourselves to the son and to the father and dedicating ourselves to her in a very, very special way,” he said. “Mary is always a model to follow in many aspects of our lives. She reminds us that what is truly important is our particular relationship with God. She helps us to put things in perspective and always to focus on what really matters and how important that is especially today with so many challenges and difficulties before us and so many divergent opinions that we are hearing from different sides of different things.”
Bishop Barbarito’s homily stressed the importance of following Mary’s virtues of humility, prayer and hope is what the world needs.
“That is what we need in our world today, the gift of humility. As God had humility, as Christ had humility, and as Mary, His perfect servant, had humility,” the bishop said. “Prayer is at the core of our lives for it enables us to grow in our relationship to God from which we were created. Prayer helps us to know the Lord better and to put all things into proper perspective.”
Hope, he continued, is a virtue society needs, especially in light of the many difficulties every faces in today’s life.
“That hope is centered on the sanctity of each and every individual from the moment of conception on the God-given dignity of family life and of the respect for all persons, especially the vulnerable and those in need, and the unborn child in their mother’s womb. Hope does not disappoint. Hope never disappoints, but always gives life,” he said. “Hope also helps us to grow in freedom and in joy.”
After the Mass, Jill Kozol, St. Therese De Lisieux in Wellington parishioner and former curia president, expressed her joy. “This was so awesome. What a beautiful night. Thank you, Bishop Barbarito.”
Mike Gangloff, Holy Family in Port St. Lucie parishioner and legionary president, reflected. “We evangelize with prayer no matter what religious affiliation. We go to daily Mass. We help our parish by visiting the sick. Our goal is the salvation of souls.”
Sandra Johnson, curia president and St. Christopher parishioner, said, “Our Blessed Mother is brought into the home with a procession. We place the statue of our lady on a table with a decorative cover and two candles and begin our prayers.”
The cause for beatification has been introduced for three legionaries: Frank Duff (1889-1980), founder of the legion, who attended the Second Vatican Council as a lay observer; Venerable Edel Quinn (1907-1944), legion envoy to East Africa; and Alfie Lambe (1932-1959), legion envoy to South America.