Spreading Devotion to St. Gerard Majella
Friday, October 17, 2014 by Kathy McMerty

by Joseph Dorcey, C.Ss.R.

October 16th is the feast of our own saintly brother, Gerard Majella. Our beloved brother is a constant reminder that all Redemptorist missionaries are called to be brothers to each other and to reach out with brotherly love to all people, especially the most abandoned and poor.

The League of St. Gerard Newsletter is produced three times a year (Lent, Mother’s Day and the feast of St. Gerard) and sent electronically to more than 3,000 people. Countless others are exposed to it through St. Gerard’s website and Facebook page. Each issue features two articles relating to St. Gerard – his life, ministry, prayer, spirituality and role as the Mothers’ Saint – or some other timely topic.

The St. Gerard Majella-The Mothers’ Saint website (www.themotherssaint.org) and Facebook page (www.facebook.com/saintgerardmajella) are growing ever more popular. The number of visitors to St. Gerard’s website has nearly doubled in the past year, and continues to grow at the same rate. The number of people who have “liked” St. Gerard’s Facebook page has grown from 5,000 to 20,000. This is quite significant growth, for which we can all feel justly proud and pleased.

Facebook calls them “likes” or “fans,” but we prefer to call those who have liked his page, “friends.” The Friends of St. Gerard is an informal, online prayer community that truly prays for the endless stream of petitions submitted for prayer. Prayer requests are posted every day, the majority dealing with women or couples dealing with infertility. There are also many other requests for different kinds of help, healing and a variety of other needs. The first names of some people requesting prayer are posted on a “St. Gerard Prayer Flower of Hope.” We ask all the friends of St. Gerard to touch the image of a first class relic of St. Gerard on the page and pray for these people by name. The testimonials we receive on the website and Facebook page, some of which are published in the e-newsletter, give powerful witness to the miraculous effect of a community of believers who pray with faith, hope, trust and confidence to God who loves us beyond anything we can possibly imagine.

St. Gerard’s Facebook page has truly created a virtual, yet very real prayer community with a global reach. There are thousands of friends from the Philippines, the USA, the UK and Ireland, and hundreds from India, Nigeria, Canada, Australia, the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, Singapore and Saudi Arabia. There are also a good number of friends from Kenya, Brazil, Vietnam, Lebanon, Sri Lanka, Italy, Kuwait, Qatar, Japan, Pakistan, Indonesia, Hong Kong, South Africa, Egypt, Ethiopia, Taiwan, Ghana, Uganda, Trinidad and Tobago, New Zealand, Malta, Germany, Tanzania, France, Bahrain, Israel, Papua New Guinea, South Korea, Mauritius, Fiji, Haiti, Syria and Mexico. St. Gerard is truly becoming a well-recognized and well-known international figure. Approximately 82% of St. Gerard’s friends are women and 18% are men, with the majority 25 to 44 years old.

This ministry provides various services to those seeking the intercession of St. Gerard. Every month, we answer a couple hundred emails received on the Facebook page. Most are prayer requests to be posted or names to be put on a Prayer Flower of Hope. Email correspondence provides small opportunities to teach, counsel, console, encourage and give hope and pastoral guidance. Mass is offered each Wednesday in the chapel of the Provincial Offices for the members of the League and the Friends of St. Gerard and their intentions, and for all the intentions received by mail, email, on Facebook and on the website.

The website offers biographical information about St. Gerard, a place to light a virtual candle and offer a prayer for a special intention, inspirational testimonials, helpful resources and the booklet with the novena and other prayers to St. Gerard, which can be read on the site, downloaded or requested by mail. Members of the League of St. Gerard are given a subscription to the e-newsletter and sent a certificate of membership, a novena and prayer booklet, a medal, a prayer card and a wallet-size picture of St. Gerard. Besides providing these materials, we are hoping to produce and provide posters, first for our own parishes and then perhaps for wider distribution in other parishes, schools, retreat centers, hospitals, clinics and maternity wards. A parish bulletin advertisement is also in the planning stages. We hope to spread devotion to St. Gerard Majella, the Mothers’ Saint, as far and as wide as possible.