Living Hope Newsletter – September 2016
St. Jude Devotees: A Very Large, Vibrant Virtual Parish
The devotion to St. Jude remains a national ministry of hope and devotion today, nine decades after the Claretians began this ministry. It is a virtual parish of over 440,000 active devotees (via mail and web) who live in all 50 states, and in 126 countries in addition to the United States. The outreach to the devotees is through print, web, and a very active social media network. We work to make sure that every devotee knows they are not alone, that they are very much loved by God as His children, and that they can connect with us in writing (mail and email) and even by phone. Sometimes what someone wants most is to connect with someone to pray with them over the phone so they are not always praying alone. We consider this part of the care and support of the followers of St. Jude.
The Claretians offer a daily Mass at the National Shrine for all devotees, and we offer a weekly devotional service that has continued from its beginning in 1929! In addition to scheduled Masses and services, the church’s hours open earlier and close much later than almost any other parish in the Chicago area. There is an almost continual flow of devotees coming to the church to pray at the Shrine, to bring their new babies to be close to St. Jude, and to feel they are not alone in their times of grief and desperation. Many ask to be blessed by one of the Claretians of the parish; others just want to stay and pray in quiet. It is rare to have 15 minutes pass in an entire day without a new devotee or a group or a busload of the faithful entering the Shrine to join those already there. Everyone knows they are loved by God and acknowledged by the Claretians and their St. Jude League.
Nurturing Materials on a Weekly Basis
The St. Jude League provides members with materials for prayer and reflection to help inspire and encourage their already strong spiritual life. There is no fee to be a member of the League; a note expressing the desire to be part of the community is all it takes. A few examples of the devotional materials the League develops and distributes are:
• Prayer guides, for five Solemn Novenas a year celebrated at the National Shrine in separate English and Spanish services.
• A series called Faith Reflections that is published five times a year (not related to the Novenas). This series celebrates the hope and strength we draw from our faith and explores a range of challenges that comes with living as a follower of Jesus—with an increased focus on reflection.
• Mass Enrollment cards for healing, hope, the Claretian Perpetual Mass League, and general enrollment to celebrate any special occasion.
• An annual calendar that highlights the works of the Claretian Missionaries around the world.
• An annual Mass for Benefactors at the National Shrine that celebrates the devotees for their commitment to St. Jude and to living a life of faith. This Mass recognizes them in gratitude for their generosity in support of this ministry of the Claretians. Devotees travel, on average, from about half the 50 states to this Mass. For many, it is their one pilgrimage to the National Shrine, and they bring their faith and joy to share with the Claretians, the other League staff, and the other devotees at the Shrine that day.
A Steady Stream of Petitions and Notes
A devotion to St. Jude and his ministry of hope is another way to connect with the presence of God in our lives. Through his intercession, we receive the grace and strength we seek from God, in times of difficulty and joy.
While each member’s devotion to St. Jude remains extremely personal, the League offers everyone opportunities to participate in communal prayer for the needs of its members. Our members grow in faith and hope as they experience the challenges and blessings in their lives with the support of St. Jude and the Masses offered on their behalf by the Claretians.
Regardless of the nature of the weekly outreach to the devotees, the St. Jude League always provides the path for petitions of need and gratitude to be delivered directly to the altar of St. Jude at the National Shrine each week. The majority of members choose to make a gift at some point in the year as an offering to help the Claretians’ ministries. Many of these gifts are very small in dollar value, yet are hugely significant gifts on each donor’s part. We are always very grateful.
In addition to many thousands of petitions over a year, the League receives letters of thanksgiving from devotees daily. They are truly personally touched by what this ministry has given them, and are very open about their love of God and their gratitude for the Claretians nurturing this devotion. This is truly a vibrant parish built around everyone’s love for St. Jude.