WCR PHOTO | RAMON GONZALEZ
Fifteen parishioners of St. Theresa Parish consecrated themselves to the Blessed Virgin.
After two years of intensive and prayerful studies, 15 parishioners of Edmonton's St. Theresa Parish consecrated themselves to Mary in front of their pastor and peers.
Father Jim Corrigan presided at the consecration ceremony and Mass Dec. 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.
"Your public commitment to live your lives according to Mary is not to be taken lightly," he told the group. "It calls for quite a change of life, quite a commitment actually in the way you live your life and in your devotional practices."
The 15 spent the past two years studying Mary and her life through the teachings of St. Louis de Montfort. They also used the book The Echo of God by Father Lance Harlow, who explains the teachings of Montfort in a more comprehensible manner.
Consecration to Mary consists in giving oneself entirely to the Blessed Virgin, in order to belong entirely to Jesus through her, explained Colleen McFarland, who brought the idea to Corrigan two years ago and then facilitated the studies.
"She is the shortest way, the most secure way, the safest way to her Son. She takes our offering of prayers and works to Jesus."
McFarland came back to the Church about six years ago. "I was away for 40 years and the Holy Spirit led me back to the Church."
Then, about three years ago, "I felt the Holy Spirit calling me to meet his beloved spouse, Mary."
After reading Father Lance Harlow's book Through Devotion to Mary, McFarland approached Corrigan with the idea of preparing parishioners for consecration to Mary.
Classes started with 22 people but only 15 made it to the end. They came out totally transformed - knowing themselves, knowing Mary and knowing God.
"It's a huge commitment; St. Louis de Montfort says that this commitment is even larger than some religious orders would do because we do everything in Mary, for Mary and with Mary," McFarland said.
"Mary becomes a big part of living our day. We imitate her virtues; we give all the value of our prayers and our good works to Mary to use wherever she needs in the world."
Corrigan expects the consecrated will be able "to live more fully their call to be holy that all of us are called to. I think this is a beautiful way to live that call to holiness."
Their example may move others within the parish to become more deeply involved in their faith, the pastor said.
Sixteen more people are currently studying for future consecration. There are also groups in Wetaskiwin, Devon and Dawson Creek.
Marie Schultz chose to be consecrated to Mary because she always had a deep love for the Mother of God and wanted to imitate her.
"It's a very, very big commitment because we no longer live as ourselves; we are living through Mary for Jesus," Schultz said. "We give everything to Mary so that she can present it to Jesus for us because she purifies everything and embellishes all our prayers.
"She is just such a virtuous person; we want to follow her virtues. We want to imitate her."
To read how perfect Mary actually is encourages Schultz to be like her. "I am finding that when I do things on a daily basis, that I do think of Mary and I pray through Mary, not through myself anymore."
Maureen Devlin had made a consecration to Mary 20 years ago so she calls this a renewal of her commitment to Our Lady.
"We want to imitate Mary because she is the perfect example. God chose her so we can't go wrong. She leads us to Jesus faster than anything else."
Devlin described the two-year course as "a concentrated journey of learning about Mary according to St. Louis de Montfort."
The studies helped her grow, she said. "Now (my consecration) has a deeper meaning. It's more of a commitment. I see the value of it even deeper than I did before. So for me today is renewal of my consecration."
Schultz said she had done other consecrations to Mary in the past "but nothing in-depth like this one. This is a true consecration."