for those with a loved one who has left the church
by Kara Hansen
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Has someone you love left the church?
If so, MaryAnn Gardner wants you to know you are not alone — and there’s something you can do about it.
Gardner, founder of the Marian Mantle group, will be giving a presentation called “Silent Strength: Has Someone You Love Left the Church?” at Savior Pastoral Center in Kansas City, Kan., on Feb. 17.
As part of her ministry, the parishioner of Prince of Peace Church in Olathe shares her own experience as a mother of a child who left the church. The heartache and sorrow parents experience in this situation are unlike any other, she said.
“Many times parents feel so alone, and like there is nothing you can do. But we have come to rely on somewhat of a motto — that we are not helpless, and it is not hopeless,” said Gardner.
Gardner will give two different talks during her presentation. One, entitled “Has Someone You Loved Left the Church?,” is largely MaryAnn’s own personal testimony about her experience with a grown child who no longer practices the Catholic faith. The other, entitled “Has Anyone Seen My Hula Hoop?,” focuses on the role of intercessory prayer, specifically for prodigals.
Gardner says her talks offer hope for those praying for a prodigal’s return, help in learning to live in peace while waiting, and a plan of action to make a way for a prodigal to come back to the faith.
“People need to know this is something you cannot fix, but there are things you can do. And most importantly, you are not alone,” said Gardner.
The day will conclude with a brief prayer service, after which Gardner will be available to answer questions and for further discussion.
Gardner’s founding ministry, the Marian Mantle group, focuses on the power and importance of perseverance in prayer for prodigal loved ones, as well as on providing support for hurting loved ones.
“It’s a ministry of sharing, prayer, and support,” said Gardner. “We work and pray together that all Catholics see their prodigals return to the church — maybe not in our lifetime, but in the Lord’s time.”
The Marian Mantle group was approved in 2003 by Archbishop James P. Keleher to support people hurting over family members who have left the church. Support is offered online through a Web site (www.marianmantle.com) and in the form of Marian Mantle prayer groups located in 22 parishes in various dioceses around the country.