Legion of Mary: Decades of devotion to the Blessed Mother

Members of the Junior Legion of Mary at St. Agnes School, pictured here Oct. 2, participate in service projects and promise to do their chores without complaining. They meet after school on Thursdays to pray the rosary. (Joyce Coronel/Catholic Sun)
Members of the Junior Legion of Mary at St. Agnes School, pictured here Oct. 2, participate in service projects and promise to do their chores without complaining. They meet after school on Thursdays to pray the rosary. (Joyce Coronel/Catholic Sun)

During October, Catholics celebrate the Feast of the Holy Rosary and ponder the 20 mysteries that highlight pivotal moments in the lives of Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary.

Twenty-seven years ago, Carla Wrublik’s mother invited her to join the Legion of Mary, an organization devoted to helping its members grow in holiness through prayer — especially the rosary — and service. The parish unit of the Legion of Mary is known as a praesidium, and there are 38 in the Diocese of Phoenix.

At first, Wrublik resisted involvement in the organization.

“I was praying for spiritual direction in my life, but I was playing games,” Wrublik said. She was hoping the Legion would change their meeting date to accommodate her work schedule. They didn’t.

“I went ahead and at that first meeting, I could see it was for me,” Wrublik said. Today, she is involved in the work of nine praesidiums, serving as an officer in some.

Members of the Legion of Mary commit to praying a special set of prayers daily. They also meet once a week to pray the rosary and are committed to performing an act of service weekly. From visiting the sick and imprisoned to feeding the hungry and sharing the Gospel message, Legion members serve others in the Phoenix Diocese and around the world.

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The Legion of Mary

A lay Catholic organization whose members serve the Church on a voluntary basis in almost every country.
Info: legionofmary.ie[/quote_box_right]

There’s also a Junior Legion for students under 18 years of age.

“Forty-three kids showed up at St. Agnes School,” Wrublik said of the organization’s weekly afterschool meeting. “And we had 42 at Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Glendale, and 49 at Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral School.”

Fernanda Gutierrez, 13, belongs to the Junior Legion at St. Agnes. The eighth-grader said her grandmother belonged to the Legion in Mexico. “I like being with kids and praying. With the Legion, I can make it fun for them to learn about God and prayer,” Gutierrez said.

Fr. Hans Ruygt, pastor of St. Clare Parish in Surprise, joined the Legion of Mary when he was a teenager.

“My vocation was strongly supported at a very early age through the Legion of Mary at my parish in Napa, Calif.,” Fr. Ruygt said. There’s a Junior Legion at St. Clare that he said supplements the parish’s religious education program. Members regularly visit a nursing home. They’re also helping to spread the Gospel by distributing Catholic materials.

“It’s an educational process and evangelization and fostering a good strong devotion to our Blessed Mother,” Fr. Ruygt said.

The rosary, he added, has long been an important part of Catholic tradition.

“It draws us close to Our Lady and she always draws us closer to her Son,” Fr. Ruygt said. “It gives us an opportunity to reflect on scriptural events in the life of Jesus and Mary.”

Wrublik recalls going door-to-door in the neighborhood surrounding St. Clare Parish and inviting residents to church. In 10 months, they encountered more than 100 fallen-away Catholics.

“It’s amazing, the graces that come,” Wrublik said. “One lady let us know she had been away from the Church — people sometimes open up.”