The Society of Mary’s American Region met under the theme “The Catholic Devotional Societies: Why The Church Needs Them Now More Than Ever” May 23 at Nashotah House Theological Seminary.
The Rev. Steven Peay, academic dean of the seminary and superior of the newly formed Glastonbury Ward at Nashotah House, celebrated Holy Eucharist before a congregation of students, faculty, alumnae, trustees and guests.
The Rev. John D. Alexander, superior of the American region and rector of S. Stephen’s Church in Providence, Rhode Island, preached on the vital witness of the historic devotional societies, “which center their activities in the parish and emphasize the leadership role of the laity.” They “aimed to revive aspects of Catholic spirituality that had fallen into neglect and disuse within Anglicanism after the 16th-century English Reformation,” and achieved some of these goals in the Book of Common Prayer (1979) and in contemporary practice.
In recent years, Fr. Alexander said, the Society of Mary has experienced the potential of Marian devotions as a way to unite those not in full communion with one another. “For Catholic Christians,” he said, “Mary stands as the Mother of the Church and the model of discipleship. As we share spiritually in her maternal joys, her heart-piercing sorrows, and her heavenly glory, we learn all the more intimately what it means to follow her son in this world, and into the next.”
The Rev. Canon David M. Baumann, chaplain of an associated ministry, the Guild of the Living Rosary of Our Lady and Saint Dominic, explained that it uses the rosary for intercessions that are distributed to guild members three times a year. Each member prays a decade every day for assigned intentions, and may submit intercessions for the next mailing.
In the afternoon, members of the society drove to Grace Church, Sheboygan, for prayers at the American Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham, led by the Rev. Karl C. Shaffenburg and members of the parish. Afterward, they learned about the work of the shrine, its yearly National Pilgrimage in October, and the significance of the English Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham, “England’s Nazareth.”