By ERINA LAMBETH, Special to the Bulletin | Published November 12, 2020
SANDY SPRINGS—Mister Rogers’ mom gave him sage advice on how to manage a crisis. “Look for the helpers,” she told him. The St. Jude the Apostle Church community didn’t have to look long or hard to find a helper in parishioner Carol Wood. When COVID hit, Wood became a help to others in ways she could have never imagined.
When the doors of St. Jude the Apostle were forced to close due to the pandemic, Wood heard God’s call and answered it. She sought the intercession of the Blessed Mother. She and many faith-filled friends in the parish met in front of the church without fail for 212 days to pray the rosary. Rain or shine. Nothing would stop this group of dedicated Catholics.
The group followed safety and social distancing requirements and adhered to maximum in-person group limitations. The participation grew with many people joining in to pray the rosary over the phone line through a speaker and calling others to join in virtually.
What started as an exercise to give parishioners a safe outdoor place to pray as a community, expanded to include personal intentions for many people from as far away as the Philippines. The group prayed for the sick, for the dying, for peace, for the unemployed, those financially devastated by COVID and for hope. Many joined in a letter campaign to the raise the spirits of the sick.
The group helped bring comfort to a man (not a parishioner) who lost his wife and his dog in a house fire, sending clothes, donations and letters. He couldn’t believe strangers would help him and pray for him non-stop.
Group members also brought comfort and strength to the Marcucci family when their mother was dying.
“These faithful prayer warriors helped me through the most difficult time of my life,” said Trish Marcucci Sheeran. “I could not have gotten through this time without the community provided through this prayerful St. Jude group.”
The parishioners also prayed for Olivia Van Dyke, a former student and parishioner at St. Catherine of Siena who now lives in Indiana and is fighting a brain tumor. Olivia has been the recipient of many letters of encouragement from this group.
“With these community prayers, my husband landed a job after his position at Delta was eliminated,” said Fiona Dominguez. “It’s so nice to have these devoted helpers in our St. Jude neighborhood.”
The group also made a difference for the Goodwyn family.
“The St. Jude parishioners prayed my mother to stable health and kept me from despair. I’m so grateful for the disciplined prayer community, who faithfully walked together daily praying the decades of the joyful, sorrowful and glorious mysteries,” said Jennifer Goodwyn.
“To keep God at the center of our lives requires much prayer, both formal and informal, and who better to deliver the message than the Blessed Virgin Mary,” said Wood.
Parishioners Marleen Annulli, Lisa Doherty and Lori Millsap were faithful in-person prayer companions throughout the 212 days and feel blessed for the quality time they prayed together. The rosary group dreamed of the day the doors of the church would re-open for daily Mass. That day finally came, and the parishioners are thrilled to go back to the eucharistic community. This is one example of the many ways parishioners harnessed the power of prayer, be it private prayer, guardianship of the Blessed Sacrament during adoration, meeting virtually to say the Divine Mercy chaplet and more.