The Trappist monks at the Abbey of Gethsemani near Bardstown, Ky., gather seven times daily for prayer. Now, included in their prayers will be the intentions of the people of the Archdiocese of Louisville.
The archdiocese launched a prayer initiative earlier this month welcoming parishioners to bring forth petitions and in turn to pray for fellow Catholics. The site includes a brief prayer for the day, links to the day’s readings, devotional music and information about individual feast days, said Molly Keene Smith, director of the Archdiocese of Louisville’s Office of Mission Advancement.
The idea for the Faithful in Prayer initiative originated with Keene Smith, who began work with the archdiocese last fall. Smith, who currently lives in Lexington, Ky., said she is in charge of a similar concept at her parish, Mary Queen of the Holy Rosary in Lexington, Ky.
“So many people can’t get to Mass right now. They miss that connection of being together,” she said in an interview last week. “I thought, ‘What if we have some kind of page where people can connect?’ And I love the idea of people praying for one another.”
The last year has been full of immense worry and isolation for many due to the COVID-19 pandemic and social unrest throughout the country. The Faithful in Prayer page is an intentional way for people of the archdiocese to leave prayer requests and to also pray for others, she said.
Every parish is a faith community, Keene Smith explained, and the archdiocese is just a “bigger community,” she noted.
“Sometimes it’s easy to forget that we are a much larger community beyond our individual parishes. We are all members of one diocese, a bigger church. This is a way to join together in community and lift each other up in prayer,” she said.
Intentions are collected once a week and submitted to the Trappist monks at Gethsemani for them to include in their daily prayers.
The abbey accepts prayer requests through its website as well. Abbot Elias Dietz said the intentions from the people of the archdiocese, as well as the ones gathered from the monks’ website, are posted on a large bulletin board at the abbey.
While the monks can’t pray for each intention individually during daily liturgies, Abbot Dietz said they pray “for all intentions entrusted to our prayers” and said the brothers “look over these petitions quite regularly.”
“We are glad to welcome this initiative from the archdiocese. Since we belong to a contemplative order, our way of participating in the mission of the church is simply to live the contemplative life as best we can,” he said. “We are privileged to join them in bringing their needs to the Lord.”
It is not a question of the brothers’ prayers “counting” more, Abbot Dietz noted.
“Perhaps the difference is that we gather so frequently for prayer each day. We’re always here and always praying. Perhaps it is the office of vigils in the middle of the night when the monks most have the sense of sharing in people’s hopes, needs, struggles and joys,” he said.
Dr. Karen Shadle, director of the Office of Worship, coordinates the daily content of the Faithful in Prayer page. She said she hopes the site can become a part of parishioners’ daily routines.
Shadle suggests individuals bookmark the page and visit as they start their day.
“It can be a landing site where people make it a part of their morning routine while they are drinking their coffee,” she said.
The prayer page has generated great interest thus far, Keene Smith said. She also welcomes any suggestions or ideas for improvement. Contact Keene Smith by phone at 585-3291 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.