By ERIKA ANDERSON, Special Contributor | Published May 6, 2004
On an unexpectedly chilly Wednesday morning, seven women gather around a table in a conference room at Blessed Trinity High School.
A large window reveals a dreary April day as inside a candle depicting an image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus flickers in the center of the table.
The women pass around a painted wooden box, each reaching inside and pulling out a stack of prayers and placing it in front of her.
Scribbled hastily on torn sheets of loose-leaf paper or carefully printed on folded notes, the prayers contain the hopes and dreams, the struggles and sins of the student body of Blessed Trinity. And as the women begin their meeting, there is a strong sense of love in their voices, for they know that the prayers of mothers are powerful ones.
The Mothers’ Prayer Group at Blessed Trinity is in its third year of existence. One Wednesday per month, a group of BT moms gather to pray for the students, faculty, staff and families of the school.
“It’s important to create community not only for our students but for our families, and the moms are generous enough to take the time out of their days to intercede on behalf of the school,” said Father Kevin Hargaden, BT chaplain.
The moms use a structure based on the non-denominational program called “Moms In Touch International” but add a “Catholic twist,” said leader Betty Ann Amoroso, whose daughter, Elisa, is a junior at the school.
The women begin each meeting by discussing the BT community.
“Are there any faculty members that need our prayers?” Amoroso asks.
The other women respond, mentioning one teacher who just had a baby, and another who will soon have surgery.
Then they move on to families of the school and talk about which ones most need their prayers.
Amoroso writes each one down so as not to forget anyone in their intentions.
The prayer then begins, with Amoroso leading. First the group expresses thanksgiving, then asks for forgiveness and finally begins to pray for the community.
After a prayer by Amoroso, the mothers one by one begin to read from the stacks of paper in front of them.
The prayers are varied, with many asking for divine help in making decisions about college. Others ask for prayers for their family members and for financial problems. Some ask for help with friendships, some pray for troops in Iraq. One even requests prayers for PGA Master’s Tournament winner Phil Mickelson.
But the mothers pray with sincerity and love for each intention, great or small.
Then it’s time for the “Catholic twist,” as they begin to pray the rosary.
At the beginning of the year, Amoroso made plastic rosaries in the green and gold colors of Blessed Trinity. When their children graduate from the school, the mothers will give the beads to their children.
For many of the women, praying for the school community not only benefits the people at BT but also gives the moms a much-needed spiritual boost.
Lisa Cleary has a son, Tim, who is a sophomore at the school, and said she looks forward to her Wednesdays at the Mothers’ Prayer Group.
“My day after I come here is just great. The few times I didn’t make it, I really missed it,” she said. “Hearing the prayers of the students, it really puts things into perspective. Sometimes you just think that all that kids do is watch MTV, but then you come here and you realize that they are just spiritual little beings.”
Eileen Homire, whose son, Ryan, is a sophomore at the school, said she likes knowing that she is covering everyone at the school in prayer.
“I like knowing that we’re praying not only for the teachers and staff and students but for the families and everyone in the community,” she said. “This blankets everyone. We pray for every child in this school, not just our own. For those children who don’t have moms to pray for them, we are praying for them.”
Joyce Hildebrand, whose daughter, Caitlin, is a junior, said that praying the rosary puts an important emphasis on the mothers’ mission.
“We are going to the Blessed Mother who is the role model of all mothers. It’s a beautiful thing. It gives me a lot of peace and serenity,” she said. “And the fact that the kids know that we pray for them, I think it gives them that grounding later in life to know that as they struggle, they can go to the Lord.”
Julie Clements, one of the organizers of the group, emphasized that the group is open to all mothers of BT, and its alumni, not just those who are Catholic.
“This is the most supportive group of women that I have been involved in for a long time. My concern is that I want all moms to be comfortable attending this group,” she said, adding that since they pray for the community’s intentions during the first half, and pray the rosary during the second half of the meeting, those not comfortable with the rosary should not worry about “scooting out early.”
But the group also said that many of the non-Catholic women end up staying for the rosary as well.
Elizabeth Huffner, whose daughter, Katie, is a BT sophomore, said that there are more than just spiritual benefits.
“This is a fun group made up of a great group of ladies,” she said. “It’s a wonderful way to meet other moms and to get in touch with the community.”
Father Hargaden believes that the effects of the prayer group are far-reaching.
“The moms group creates a bond that will have a lasting effect not only on our Blessed Trinity community, but for our parishes as well.”
As the prayer group ends, the mothers spend the time talking about their upcoming day, all the while ripping up the students’ intentions. What is said in the room stays in the room, they say. But they also know that the prayers that they make are heard, and for these mothers, who desperately love their children, that is all they need to know.