Prayer Group Moves to St. Mary’s in Fairfield
November 2, 2001
This past summer permission was given for the Thursday night prayer group to use the Glass Chapel at the Grotto in Emmitsburg. I would estimate that each week there were between 75 and 80 people in attendance, sometimes more, sometimes less. This does not count the other Thursday night prayer groups that are scattered throughout Emmitsburg. Things seemed to be going well until this past October 25 which would be the last Thursday before setting the clocks back for the winter. We were told that we were welcome to continue using the chapel but the Grotto would be closing at 5:30 and we needed to be finished by then. This would mean that it would have to start by 3:30.
Everybody realized that this would not work very well because most people just can’t make it that early. It seemed the structure of Thursday night was falling apart and nobody had any suggestions. It was agreed that if you can make it at 3:30, great, if not, pray at home. I told Ted Szymanski that I think we should go and talk to Father Mike M at Saint Mary’s in Fairfield which is about 5 or so miles from Emmitsburg. The following Saturday morning, October 27th Ted and I attended 8:30 Mass and Rosary at St. Joseph’s and when that was over we went to the Palms Restaurant and ate breakfast which is just around the corner from St. Joseph’s. While we were eating Ted asked me if I was serious about going to Fairfield and talking to Fr. M. I said to Ted “The worst thing he can do is say no and then we are no worse off than we are right now”. Ted agreed.
Ted and I drove to St. Mary’s which is just across the state line in Fairfield, Pa which is in the diocese of Harrisburg to talk to Father M, neither one of us had ever met him before and this is what happened : Ted and I arrived at St. Mary’s about 10:30 am and we walked in the church, we were the only people there. I said a few prayers for our success and lit a blue votive candle under Mary. We left the church and drove around to the rectory and knocked on the door. It looked like nobody was there and we also noticed there were no cars parked anywhere. I said to Ted “ I guess we won’t be talking to Father M today” We got back in my truck and were turning around when we saw Father M open the upstairs door. I stopped the truck and Ted and I walked up to him and introduced ourselves. He was in the process of cooking. I asked him if he could spare a few minutes to talk to us. He asked “about what” and I said “Our Lady of Emmitsburg”. Father M had a surprised look on his face when I said that and he said “Let me turn this stove off and lets go down stairs where we can sit down and be more comfortable”.
We walked downstairs to the Rectory, sat down and this is what was said: I said “Father the only reason I have come here is because of the many wonderful things that have happened in my life as a result of going to Saint Joseph’s on Thursday nights for the past 3 years. Ted has been going for 8 years and if we had any doubts whatsoever we would not be here. You probably know that the prayer group has been meeting every Thursday night at the Glass Chapel at the Grotto and we are still welcome there. The problem is that we set the clocks back for the winter tonight and starting next Thursday we would have to start the Rosary by 3:30 to be finished by dark when the Grotto closes. I travel 2 hours to get there and there are a lot of other people who come from a distance. Even people who live in Emmitsburg will have trouble being there at 3:30 because people are not off from work yet and kids are not even home from school. I believe that it is very important that we keep this prayer group together, especially now with the investigation going on and the current events in the world today as they are. My question to you is this, Is there any possibility whatsoever that you would consider allowing The Thursday Night Marian Prayer Group to move to your church at least for the winter or until the investigation is over. I am not looking for an answer now, I am just hoping that you will consider it.” Father M said “I will need some time to pray to the Holy Spirit about this but I think it is a good idea” My heart skipped a few beats when he said that. Before we left I told Father M that NOBODY HAD ASKED US TO DO THIS AND WE WERE ACTING ON OUR OWN. NOBODY KNOWS THAT WE CAME TO SEE YOU. I did not want him to think Gianna or anybody else had asked us to do this. Father M said when his decision was made he would let us know. Father M then said I just remembered that we have choir practice every Thursday night then he said never mind that I will try to come up with something. We thanked him and left feeling very good about what had just happened.
That night Dolly Kowalik who lives in Fairfield called me on the phone and said : “Robert, Father M stopped me as I was going to 5:30 mass and asked me if I knew you and I said, yes I do. He told me that you stopped by and what you asked him and he says he wants to do it if it does not cause any conflict with the investigation currently underway. He will know in a few days if we can proceed. He also said that he would not be able to do it on Thursday nights because of choir practice but if Friday night was OK with us it would be OK with him, in addition Father M said that he would have Benediction.” Dolly then told me to call Phil C. because he wanted to talk to me. I called Phil and Phil asked “How in the world did you manage this”? I said to Phil “All I did was ask”. The next day I got a call from Sister Genevieve saying the prayer group would start at Saint Mary’s on Friday at 7 PM.
Word of this traveled very fast and when Friday came which was First Friday of the month November 2, 2001 the first Friday Night Marian Prayer Group took place at St. Mary’s in Fairfield in combination with a small already existing pro-life rosary. It started with Eucharistic Adoration followed by all 15 decades of the Rosary, then The Chaplet of The Devine Mercy. The following week Father M had restructured the evening to be as close as possible to the Thursday Night Prayer Group at St. Joseph’s including coffee and refreshments afterwards. This development has given new life to Our Lady of Emmitsburg’s prayer group ensuring its continuation during the investigation period.