Centenary celebration for Legion of Mary

An enriched prayer life and a deeper appreciation for the Catholic faith are just two of the benefits of involvement with the Legion of Mary.

As the legion prepares to celebrate its centenary later this month, members from around Tasmania spoke of the many positive aspects of involvement with the largest apostolic organisation of lay people in the Church today.

The Legion of Mary was founded by Irish lay Catholic Frank Duff in 1921 in Dublin. He wanted the legion to help the Church bring all souls to Jesus through Mary, with the Rosary at the core of its spirituality. He viewed the legion as an army of the Mother of God.

Today it has several million active members globally. It was established in the Archdiocese of Hobart in 1934 and there are branches at Ulverstone, Kingston, Bridgewater and Glenorchy.

Helen Emery is the Legion of Mary secretary for the Hobart Curia and has been involved for 22 years.
“I have learned more about the Catholic Church and faith since I have been in the legion and it has strengthened my faith a lot,” said Mrs Emery, of Hobart.

“I very thankful to Our Lady for the faith she given me.

“What we do is evangelise. That is one of our big roles in the legion and I feel more confident evangelising and telling people about the faith.

“Involvement in the legion would benefit a lot of people, and you make good friends.”

The legion is a ministry that helps keep people in touch with their parish. Members meet once a week for prayer, planning and discussion. Active works may include visiting the sick, elderly and housebound in the parish, although Covid-19 has had an impact on this. They may also be involved with teaching children the Rosary and Christian doctrine, and other spiritual work in the parish.

The Legion of Mary is quite distinct from other prayer groups, Mrs Emery added.

“We go visiting, door-to-door,” Mrs Emery said. “People who want to go back to the faith can talk to legionaries and we can direct them to the parish priest and RCIA program.

“We would love to have more members and some new, younger members and then we could expand into other parishes. Recruiting and getting more members is our main work at the moment.”

Margaret Swain, of Ulverstone, has been part of the Legion of Mary for 32 years. She has had a number of stints as president and is now vice-president and treasurer.

Mrs Swain highlighted some of the legion activities in her parish, including visiting the elderly and the sick, evangelisation, assisting the priests, involvement in a range of parish activities and groups, and supporting the faith lives of parishioners.

“We all enjoy coming along for the Rosary,” Mrs Swain added. “We have had lots of support through [Mersey Leven assistant priest]

Fr Steven [Smith]. He is quite keen and it is lovely to have him.”

Kathy Aldred, of Prospect, found involvement with the Legion of Mary so rewarding that she joined both the Launceston and Invermay groups. Both have since closed but Mrs Aldred still occasionally attends the Ulverstone group.

Mrs Aldred summed up her 30 year association with the legion: “I loved the visiting, the people and the prayer.”

All are welcome to the Legion of Mary’s centenary celebrations at St Mary’s Cathedral, Hobart, on Sunday, 29 August, at 10.30am when Archbishop Julian Porteous will celebrate Mass.

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