By RENEE WEBB
Several women in the Diocese of Sioux City have become involved in an apostolate to offer prayers for their pastors.
The Seven Sisters Apostolate is a call to strengthen the Catholic Church by ensuring that a holy hour is prayed each day of the week for the sole intention of a specific priest or bishop.
Julie Storr, a parishioner at Resurrection Church in Pocahontas, is the anchoress – main organizer and leader – of the apostolate in her parish. The group was initiated in the parish about 10 months ago.
“We have seven, Seven Sisters (women) who have agreed to pray a particular day of the week,” she explained. “My day is Saturday. I know that on Saturday I take one hour of my weekend to pray for my pastor.”
In addition to the seven women who each commit to a day of the week for a year, most Seven Sisters have additional women and men to serve as substitutes and offer extra prayers.
Peggy Pohlen, a parishioner at Hospers St. Anthony Parish, is a member of the Seven Sisters Apostolate for the Pilgrim Cluster from parishes in Alton, Granville and Hospers.
“There is a great need to support the priests,” she said. “I believe this is very important.”
One of the factors that compelled Storr to begin the ministry in her parish was Ministry 2025, long-range pastoral planning in the diocese.
“As we went through Ministry 2025, and we all could see the strain it was putting on the parishioners, some of us realized it was magnified for our priests,” Storr said. “If we still wanted to have a whole parish, we needed to have more opportunities to keep our pastor lifted up in prayer.”
Prayers for priests are more needed than ever and just by knowing people are praying for them can give the priests strength.
“We would like to have all of our priests covered in prayer,” Storr said. “We would like every priest to have a woman in his parish offering a holy hour for him every day.”
According to the apostolate’s website, they give priority to starting groups to pray for pastors, then can start groups to pray for other active priests and the retired.
Ideally, the holy hour is to be offered in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament – either in adoration or in front of the tabernacle. The hour is to be solely offered for the intention of the priest and include prayers for his deepening devotion to Mary.
Pohlen not only has prayed in her church at Hospers but in the other parishes of the Pilgrim Cluster “to be inspired by their beautiful churches and artwork.”
While there is no specific prayer format required for the holy hour, Seven Sisters offers a variety of suggestions from prayer and meditation on the Mass readings of the week, to the rosary and Liturgy of the Hours.
“One of the prayers they suggest that I really love is the Novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which St. Padre Pio prayed daily,” said Storr. “In that novena, we pray for the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of the pastor to be met that day.”
Pohlen, who has committed to pray for one hour on Fridays for her pastor, noted prayer can also be centered on devotions that are the personal favorites of the priest or patron saints to which they are devoted or affiliated.
“All of the gals that do this are very committed,” she noted, adding that it can bring a sense of peace to those involved in the ministry. “I would love to see every priest in the diocese covered because they need to support and to be lifted up. There is a lot of heaviness in the world.”
The Seven Sister Apostolate was founded in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis in 2011 and now has more than 250 groups throughout the United States and about six other countries. Along with the Pocahontas parish group and Pilgrim Cluster, other diocesan groups identified on the apostolate’s website include Humboldt St. Mary, Holy Trinity Fort Dodge, Marcus Holy Name/Remsen St. Mary as well as Five Saints Catholic Community of Algona, Bode, West Bend and Whittemore.
If you are interested in learning more about this apostolate, you can contact Storr at (712) 335-4393 or email@example.com. Information is also available on the apostolate’s website at sevensistersapostolate.org.