About 100 members, auxiliary and supporters of the Legion of Mary from throughout the Diocese of Cleveland gathered on Sept. 7 at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist for a comitium function, or a joint gathering.
John Noall, president of the Cleveland Northeast Curia and one of the event organizers, said it was the first time the three branches of the diocesan organization gathered at the cathedral for such a function. Legion groups meet regularly and there are four larger functions each year, he said, including one that coincides with the Blessed Mother’s birthday, which is celebrated on Sept. 8.
After singing the entrance hymn “Hail, Holy Queen,” the Blessed Sacrament was placed in a monstrance for exposition. Bishop Nelson Perez carried the monstrance and led the congregation in a short procession out the Superior Avenue door of the cathedral, west on Superior to East Ninth Street and north on East Ninth, up the front steps of the cathedral and back into the church where the monstrance was returned to the altar. Flanking the altar were the vexillum or the standard of the Legion of Mary -- which features a dove and a miraculous medal -- and a small altar with two vases of flowers and two candles, one on each side of a statue of the Blessed Mother.
“Isn’t this the role of the Blessed Mother – to bring us to him?” Bishop Perez asked, as he gestured toward the monstrance.
The bishop said in the 1920s the Church of Cleveland was known for having a huge procession in downtown Cleveland. “Maybe this is the beginning or the reinstitution of something, especially in light of the fact that so many people don’t believe that this is really Jesus. At a time when the Eucharistic presence of Christ is questioned or even rejected, how do we react? We say, ‘here he is.’”
Bishop Perez said those gathered for the event are giving witness to their love for Jesus in the Eucharist and for his Blessed Mother.
“Pray for the Church of Cleveland, pray for each other, pray for me and please be assured of my prayers for you,” he added.
There were more prayers, hymns and recitation of the rosary, as well as benediction and a Eucharistic blessing before the service concluded. A brief reception followed in the courtyard outside the cathedral.
The Legion of Mary is an international lay apostolate of the Roman Catholic Church whose members serve on a voluntary basis. It was founded on Sept. 7, 1921 in Dublin, Ireland by Servant of God Frank Duff. Its twofold purpose is the spiritual development of its members and advancement of the reign of Christ through Mary. The first legionaries were women. Today, the Legion of Mary has an estimated 4 million active members and 10 million auxiliary members in nearly 200 countries and in almost every diocese in the Catholic Church.
Throughout the Diocese of Cleveland, there about 250 Legion members and about 1,000 auxiliary members. Auxiliaries offer prayerful support for Legion members and pray the rosary daily. The priority of Legion members is the spiritual and social welfare of each person. Members perform spiritual works of mercy, including visits to the sick, homebound and those in nursing homes, Noall said.
The Northeast Cleveland Curia – which he heads -- is 72 years old and covers generally east-side communities. It is one of the oldest in the country. Father David Baugh serves as spiritual director.
Phyllis Crespo is president of the Cleveland Comitium (primarily west-side communities) with Father Michael Troha as spiritual advisor. Patricia Hunt leads the Akron Curia and Father James Maloney is spiritual advisor.
For more information on the Legion in general, click HERE.
Call Noall at 440-585-5317 to inquire about joining a local branch of the organization.