On Saturday, November 2nd, “All Souls Day”, 3 members from two Legion praesidia joined forces for a day of evangelization on Broadway, in Providence.
Sr. Marissa* from St. Vincent de Paul’s Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception praesidium and Sr. Eileen and Sr. Diane, both of St. Eugene’s Our Lady of the Clergy praesidium met at St. Mary’s on Broadway at 10 AM. With the blessing of Father Berg, the three went out into the streets armed with parish bulletins, rosaries, miraculous medals and a journal in which to record “intentions” of the people they would meet.
It didn’t take long to make their first contact. As they rounded the corner of the church, they spoke with a cab driver who was waiting for his fare in front of St. Mary’s. Sr. Marissa made the initial contact explaining that they were from the Legion of Mary and were there to offer those they met a rosary, a miraculous medal and a prayer. This approach was gentle and engaging and the cab driver came over to speak with them. Sr. Diane then brought her magnetic personality to the fore and established a personal connection for the driver. She asked if he had any intentions , either for himself or a loved one, that they could pray for right there on the spot. He did and so the four joined hands and prayed a Hail Mary for himself and his family. At that point, his fare came out of St. Mary’s and joined them at the cab. He goes to St. Mary’s every year on “All Soul’s Day” to pray for his mother and father who have passed. He was very happy to meet the three legionaries and thanked them for the prayers. Sr. Eileen then asked both if they had any other prayer requests because at the end of the street mission, they would be returning to St. Mary’s to pray the rosary for the intentions they have collected. Both requested additional prayers and Sr. Eileen started her “book of intentions”.
Over the course of the next two hours, they established 24 encounters with the folks they passed along the way. Using the same approach as they did with the cab driver, they found that most of those they spoke to were willing to spend a few minutes with them. It seems that everyone has something or someone that needs a prayer and they appreciated the Legionairies kindness and generosity of spirit.
Included among them were an elderly Army veteran who said he prays the rosary every night and also with a group after mass; a young “almost homeless” man who got off a bus and was immediately lost and looking for a friend; a woman and her dog, a rescued pit bull who exuded nothing but love; a tall and lanky young man who had no specific intentions but wanted to “pray for the whole world”; to a middle aged man who had no home, no food but still had hopes and dreams. The Legionaries also ran down a fire truck with four firemen. They knocked on the door and told them they were with the Legion of Mary and would like to pray with them and for them. All four men joined them on the sidewalk, all four men accepted the rosary and medal, and all joined hands in prayer.
On two occasions the Legionaries reached out to people who were reluctant to talk but Sr. Marissa’s warm and quiet demeanor softened them up. One was a woman who described herself as christian, declined the rosary and medal but was very appreciative of their offer. The other was a gentleman who came up from behind them and was glancing at them with a bit of a smile. Sr. Marissa struck up the conversation and asked if he would like the rosary or medal and he declined but said to them, “Its great you’re trying to help people”. This sparked Sr. Diane to ask him his name, which was Michael. She said “You’re a warrior Michael!” . He smiled broadly and went on his way. He took about six steps then turned around and said “On 2nd thought, could I please have a medal?”
Upon return to St. Mary’s, the Legionaries entered the church, read the intentions aloud and prayed the rosary for those intentions. Apart from the realization that there is a lot of pain and suffering in this world and all people, it was a spiritually uplifting day for the Legionaries and they will be going out again in two weeks time.
A REPORT FROM A DAY ON THE STREETS OF PROVIDENCE
*In the Legion we call each other Br. or Sr., but we are lay people.