Family Renewal Project plans novena for unity, strength

Image courtesy of Family Renewal Project

Family Renewal Project, an apostolate in the Archdiocese of Louisville, is calling Catholics to take part in “The Way of Trust” a 54-day rosary novena intended to “unify and strengthen the body of Christ” amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The prayer initiative begins Aug. 15, the Feast of the Assumption. The first rosary of the novena will be prayed after the noon feast day Mass at the Cathedral of the Assumption. It will conclude Oct. 7, the Feast of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary.

“During this time of tumult and readjustments, many of us continue to feel disjointed and are yearning for unity,” said Donna Burry, director of Family Renewal Project. “We believe individuals and families will find comfort and peace when uniting in prayer for the same intention, trusting that Jesus, through his mother and his earthly father Joseph, will protect and guide us.”

The 54-day prayer initiative is a series of six novenas — three are prayed in petition and three are prayed in thanks-
giving, said Burry during a recent interview. Individuals are asked to pray the rosary daily at their leisure.

Burry said a special intention, for the country and for families, will be prayed daily before the rosary. A special prayer will be offered in thanksgiving: “Lord our country is hurting and our families are in need. Thank you for receiving my prayer. Mother Mary and St. Joseph, thank you for your loving intercession. Jesus, I trust in you. Come Holy Spirit, come. Amen.”

Father Martin Linebach, vicar general of the archdiocese and spiritual director of the Family Renewal Project, said throughout the history of the church popes have encouraged praying the rosary in difficult times.

The COVID-19 global pandemic has created such a time, he said.

“I don’t know that we know the emotional and psychological impact COVID-19 has had on us,” said Father Linebach during a recent interview. “Families are worried about their finances, worried about now that we’re preparing to go back to school, how that’s going to be. There are middle-aged people that are taking care of their elderly parents who are at higher risk. That’s all behind the Way of Trust and launching into the 54 days of prayer.”

Father Linebach said he hopes the 54-day novena will help people persevere and experience a “sense of peace” and know that “with the grace of God and the intercession of the Blessed Mother we will be better” because of the hardships brought about by pandemic.

“We will be okay. God will not disappoint,” said Father Linebach.

300 families, groups, parishes and individuals, including priests and seminarians in formation for the priesthood, have signed up to pray the novena, said Burry. To sign up, visit Those who sign up will receive an encouraging message and a video of an individual, group or family praying the rosary during the 54 days.

Burry and her husband, Garry Burry, along with a group of local Catholics founded Family Renewal Project in 2016.

Its mission is to “restore the family and renew the culture by educating and forming men and women to understand, embrace, and live authentic love and responsibility,” according to the group’s website.

Organizers had three goals in mind when the apostolate formed, said Burry:

  • To have Theology of the Body — the collection of St. John Paul II’s teachings on human sexuality — integrated into the curriculum for elementary and high schools in the Archdiocese of Louisville.
  • To share the message of Theology of the Body with individuals of all ages.
  • To establish a Catholic mental health practice.

Burry said before the apostolate formed, she traveled across the country seeking the message of Theology of the Body. On these trips, she met others from the archdiocese and they’d lament the fact they had to travel far away for that message. In 2013 she attended the Theology of the Body Institute in Pennsylvania where she learned about St. John Paul II’s teachings.

“I wept. I thought ‘why have I lived my whole life and not heard this before.’ It put flesh on the bones of my faith,” said Burry.

Photo Special to The Record
Family Renewal Project educator Cathy Blandford, upper left, presented a program on the Theology of the Body at Holy Family Church last year. The project is an apostolate in the Archdiocese of Louisville dedicated to spreading the message of St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body.

Now, Family Renewal Project has made Theology of the Body available to individuals of all ages across the archdiocese through a series of presentations by educators Cathy Blandford, a master catechist, and John Sohl, who is Family Renewal Project’s director of education formation. Sohl is preparing to receive a master’s certification from the Theology of the Body Institute.

In addition to its education ministry, Family Renewal Project offers Wine and Wonder women’s ministry, Silent Knights ministry for men and Catholic Couples Network for engaged and newly married couples.

The project’s newest ministry is the Good Shepherd Institute of the Bluegrass (GSIB) Psychological Services Center. The institute opened last October with the mission of “providing mental health care that is founded on and informed by the Catholic understanding of what makes a person healthy,” said Elina Holland.

Holland — who holds a master’s in clinical psychology from the Institute of the Psychological Sciences at Divine Mercy University — serves as a therapist at the GSIB and a mental health educator for the apostolate.

She usually offers in-office therapy sessions but health and safety restrictions put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic have prevented in-person meetings. She is currently offering therapy sessions through a video platform that is secure and compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) laws, she said.

In-office sessions, for individuals, couples and families, take place at St. James Church in Elizabethtown, Ky., and at St. Raphael Church, 2141 Lancashire Avenue. For more information on the services offered, call 632-3249.

To learn more about Family Renewal Project, visit

Ruby Thomas
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