Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of September 16, 2002
Couple fulfilled through Legion of Mary
Smyths battle heat to help legion do its work
By BYRON PRICE
Special to the WCR
The Catholic Church has many unsung heroes and heroines. Often, they are the people who take the Gospel message seriously and make devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary a way of life.
Laurie and Terry Smyth of St. Joseph's Basilica Parish in Edmonton are two such people.
Calgary. July 12. Temperature, 36C. Sweat lines the weathered brow of Terry as he and his wife Laurie work on their schedule for visiting city parishes.
These two prayer warriors are members of the Legion of Mary, a Catholic lay group. They were in Calgary to give prayerful support and guidance to the city's nine legion branches.
The couple's personal journey with the legion has spanned two continents and more than 30 years of service.
The Legion of Mary's own story began in Dublin in 1921 by Frank Duff. Through his work with the St. Vincent De Paul Society, Duff realized people were in great need of spirituality. His insights into the role of the Virgin Mary and writings of St. Louis de Montfort helped form his plans for the legion.
Legionaries engage in prayer, service and action to support the Catholic Church. They show their devotion to the Virgin Mary in prayer. The rosary and Magnificat are important expressions of this devotion at their weekly meetings.
As well as coming together to pray, legionaries put their beliefs into action.
Said Laurie: "Legionaries pray for the entire world, and on a local level, visit people in their homes, say rosaries with people in hospitals, as well as (attend) their weekly meetings. The work we do helps our spirituality and prayer life, so the legion is a life-giving presence to us."
Door-to-door visitation is a crucial part of the legion's work. Terry says the main purpose in visiting Catholics is to bring them to a higher spiritual level.
"The door-to-door visitation has led to straightening out marriage regulations for Catholic couples, as well as Baptism of their children," added Laurie.
She recalls knocking on the door of a home where the husband had just died. "The husband's widow said her husband was Catholic, but she was not. I asked her if she wished to become a Catholic. She said yes and we linked her up with an RCIA program. And she became a Catholic. I asked her later why she had not become a Catholic before. She said, 'No one ever asked me.'"
Terry told of seniors in lodges who for one reason or another did not practise their Catholic faith anymore. The legion guided many of them back to the Church.
The lay group was also intended to help the parish priest. But Laurie described requests for help in North America as "woefully few" and wonders if the legion is viewed as "outdated."
Nevertheless, the legion has great appeal outside of North America. For example, Korea has over 30,000 legion branches with a Catholic population of just over three million.
The devout couple happily attest to the positives of belonging to the faith fellowship. In Terry's years he has heard other legionaries describe changes for the better in their spiritual lives.
Any Catholic can belong, said Terry. And the legion involves community. "Visitations to homes, hospitals and so on are done in pairs. You are not alone in God's vineyard."