Bishop Kulick Presides Over Annual Acies Consecration
By Melissa Williams Brown
Without a strong devotion to the Blessed Mother, Mary Hasch doesn’t know how she would have made it through her 14-day quarantine after testing positive for Covid-19. She never put her rosary beads down, praying to the Blessed Mother to protect her and provide her with good health.
Hasch, an Epiphany of Our Lord parishioner in Monessen, is the first president in the praesidium who started the Legion of Mary in the Diocese of Greensburg. She served two, three-year terms when the group was first organized.
“The Blessed Mother always helps you in your time of need,’ said Hasch, who also prayed the Tessera during her illness. It is a prayer booklet issued to members.
To recognize the prayerful like Hasch and their devotion to the Blessed Mother, Bishop Larry J. Kulick was the main celebrant for Mass at St. Agnes Parish in North Huntingdon on March 27 for Legion of Mary members in the Diocese of Greensburg’s Comitium for the annual Acies consecration ceremony. The Comitium is a group of men and women who oversee the praesidia in the Diocese of Greensburg, which are Legion of Mary groups. Legion of Mary faithful gather annually for Mass and an Acies service. Acies is Latin for “army.” The Mass is held on or near the Feast of the Annunciation on March 25 so Legion members can renew their devotion to Mary and their pledge to the Blessed Mother to continue their prayers and service.
Hosted by Our Lady Help of Christians Praesidium, welcoming address was given by Father Salvatore Lamendola, Greensburg Comitium spiritual director. He especially thanked Bishop Kulick for spending time with the group and honoring their great devotion to the Blessed Mother.
After Mass, the group individually paused in front of the the vexillum, seeing the dove, the symbol of the Holy Spirit and a picture of Our Lady. They spoke the words of consecration, “I am all yours, my queen, my mother, and all that I have is yours.”
Patrick Williams, a parishioner of St. Bernard of Clairvaux in Indiana, also has a strong devotion to the Blessed Mother, and is carrying out his mother, the late Elizabeth Williams’ legacy. Our Lady of Fatima Praesidium was founded on Dec. 8, 1949. It is the oldest presidia in the Diocese of Greensburg. They were originally in the Diocese of Pittsburgh until the Diocese of Greensburg was founded in 1951.
Williams said it was founded as a result of two promises made to the Blessed Mother.
Williams is the current president of the first praesidium. He tells the story of how his mother almost died after her second baby was born.
“A doctor told her it would be difficult for her to have more children after two traumatic deliveries. My mother made a promise to the Blessed Mother that if she had a healthy child, she would do something special for the Blessed Mother. She had a healthy baby girl and named her Mary. She had 10 children,” said Williams. As a little boy, Williams remembers taking flowers to the Blessed Mother’s statue.
The group provides many ministries in Indiana County. They visit personal care homes and local hospitals, conduct Bible study at the Indiana County Jail, visit the homebound, hold Mercy Sunday annually to promote First Saturday devotions, host an annual parish retreat, hold a candle-lighting Marian procession in October, pray the rosary in May and October, ad hae a May crowning ceremony to name a few.
Williams tells the story of how seven men from the parish were killed during World War II. Msgr. James Brady, then pastor, made a promise to parishioners that if no more men succumbed to the war, he would have an Our Lady of Fatima shrine built in her honor at St. Bernard Cemetery in Indiana. Brady also founded Our Lady of Fatima Praesidium.
“Every spiritual event came through Our Lady of Fatima. It always brought me closer to God. She is my protectress,” said Williams.
“Mary enables us to do great works. The group abides by the three Cs (consolation to visit the sick, imprisoned and homebound, conservation to make available opportunities for prayer and devotions, and conversion to bring others to Christ),” said Williams.
He said that through the leadership of the Blessed Mother, we seek to serve others, making Mary present in their lives. A legionary is always on duty. Being a legionary is not just being a member, it is a way of life,” said Williams.
Stephanie Cavanaugh, president of the Diocese of Greensburg Comitium, said she never knew how fulfilling a simple “yes” would be when she first accepted the invitation to become a member. “Now, 10 years later, Our Lady continues to provide fulfillment through those we have contact with through our works. Just to know we made a difference in someone’s day is so rewarding. And it seems like no matter how many yeses you give to Our Lady by saying “yes” to the Legion of Mary, she provides the strength and guidance to accomplish the task at hand,” said Cavanaugh.
Williams explained that Frank Duff founded the Legion of Mary in Ireland on Sept. 7, 1921. It is the largest lay apostolic organization in the Catholic Church, with well over 10 million members. “The goal of the Legion is personal sanctification. From this union with God derives their works.”