National prayer effort slated for St. Joseph’s feast day
by Joe Bollig
OVERLAND PARK — What began as an archdiocesan effort to unite Catholic men in prayer has spread like wildfire to men’s groups across the country.
The first Catholic Men’s National Day of Prayer will be held on March 15, the solemnity of St. Joseph. All laymen are being asked to engage in personal and corporate prayer for a renewed commitment to Christ and for the benefit of others.
The national day of prayer invites Catholic laymen to attend Mass on March 15 and to pray in the morning and evening. Suggested activities include saying the Litany of St. Joseph and/or the rosary, dedicating the workweek to the Lord, performing corporal works of mercy, and praying for specific intentions.
Dan Spencer, a member of church of the Ascension in Overland Park, got the idea for the day of prayer two years ago, when Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann called for 30 days of prayer for vocations to the priesthood.
“At the time, I thought it would be a great thing in the future to have a national day when we could celebrate men’s spirituality in connection with St. Joseph,” said Spencer, founder of the local apostolate, the St. Joseph Center.
This national effort grew out of Spencer’s work at the center, and he chose St. Joseph as the national prayer movement’s patron because St. Joseph was ordained by God to protect and provide for the Blessed Virgin Mary and Jesus. St. Joseph is the perfect model of the fully integrated man, with no conflict between his roles, he said.
Spencer, who has been involved with men’s ministry for years, leads the spirituality group Men of Ascension, is committee chairman of the annual archdiocesan retreat Men Under Construction, and is a member of the National Fellowship of Catholic Men.
At first, said Spencer, he only intended to launch an archdiocesan effort, but he realized that more could be accomplished through the 50 active Catholic men’s conferences across the nation.
“Last year I was at the leadership conference of the National Fellowship of Catholic men in Detroit,” said Spencer. “I suggested to the president of that organization that perhaps men could meet nationwide on that day to pray.”
A proposal was drafted and sent to bishops throughout the United States. The response from men’s groups has been enthusiastic, said Spencer. Some bishops have gone so far as to schedule special Masses for men’s groups on March 15. The initiative has become the highlight of men’s conferences in St. Louis; Dubuque, Iowa; West Palm Beach, Fla.; Lincoln, Neb.; and Green Bay, Wis. It has the potential to become an annual event.
Spencer has also been interviewed by EWTN, Ave Maria and other Catholic radio stations. He believes that the airing of those segments closer to the actual day of prayer will spread the news of the event even further.