|Janis Irwin cuts the cake she baked for the celebration of the 1,000th meeting of the Notre Dame du Lac Praesidium of the Legion of Mary at Our Lady of the Lake Church in Hendersonville. Watching her is charter member Shella Galvin, left, and Deanna Morgan, right. Photos by Andy Telli
For nearly 25 years, the members of the Notre Dame du Lac Praesidium of the Legion of Mary at Our Lady of the Lake Church in Hendersonville have been visiting sick and homebound members of the parish to bring them Communion and share a prayer as well as a friendly face.
“They just light up,” when the Legion of Mary visits, said charter member Shella Galvin. “Some people had no one to visit them. … You start to think of them as members of the family.”
On Wednesday, April 8, the Notre Dame du Lac Praesidium celebrated its 1,000th meeting with Mass, prayers, a review of its history and a cake baked by member Janis Irwin.
“I want to say thanks for your apostolate of prayer,” Our Lady of the Lake Pastor Father Eric Fowlkes told the current and retired members of the group who attended the landmark meeting. “It’s so comforting to know these prayers are being offered.”
He also thanked them for their work visiting the sick and homebound “to give them words of hope and encouragement.” As the parish has grown, the priests at the parish wouldn’t be able to visit all the sick and homebound parishioners without the help of groups like the Legion of Mary, Father Fowlkes said.
|Rena Eller prays the rosary with the group during the meeting.
The Legion of Mary was founded in 1921 in Dublin, Ireland, by Frank Duff, who believed that everyone, without exception, can become saints. The object of the Legion of Mary is the glory of God through the holiness of its members developed by prayer and active co-operation in Mary’s and the Church’s work, according to its website. It is now active throughout the world.
The Notre Dame du Lac Praesidium, which is the local unit of the Legion of Mary, meets at 10 a.m. every Wednesday after the 9:15 a.m. Mass. The organization held its first meeting on May 29, 1990, and the charter members were Galvin, her mother Sally Janisse, Maureen Barrett, Judy Hagan, Eleanor Searles and the late Msgr. William Bevington, who was pastor of Our Lady of the Lake at the time.
Originally the praesidium not only visited the sick and homebound, but also conducted classes to prepare families for the baptism of their child and to visit families with newborns, Galvin said. But as the parish grew, so did the numbers of sick and homebound who needed to be visited, she said, so the Notre Dame du Lac praesidium decided to focus on that apostolate.
“You get more than you give,” by being a member, said Galvin.
Joanne Huss, the current president of the Notre Dame du Lac Praesidium, joined after moving to Hendersonville in 2010 to be closer to her children and grandchildren following retirement from a career as a teacher and guidance counselor in Perkins, Oklahoma.
“I’m not used to a church this big,” Huss said. She was asking another parishioner the best way to meet people and they suggested she come to a Legion of Mary meeting. Since then, she’s become active in other parish ministries. “The nice thing about Our Lady of the Lake is there are so many ministries that can fit anybody’s schedule and interests,” she said.
More than 10 years ago, a second praesidium, Our Lady of Sorrows, was established at Our Lady of the Lake. Their apostolate is blessing homes and businesses for parishioners and leading a bible study group at an area nursing home. The Our Lady of Sorrows Praesidium meets at 10 a.m. Thursdays.