This month we take a look at how Maryknollers have witnessed memorable moments of prayer in their mission lives. Prayers can be surprising, joyous, empowering, and sorrowful. They can say ‘I am anxious’, ‘Please help’, ‘I’m so happy’, ‘I need a friend’, or simply ‘Thank you’. Below are a few moments of prayer Maryknollers have observed. They show that a prayer can be said for nearly anything, and expressed in nearly any way.

Sr. Joan Michel Kirsch (l), Sr. Edward Marie Sauter (c), and Sr. Mary Dennis McCarthy (r) with members of the community in Bahangija, Tanzania

Sr. Mary Dennis McCarthy

“No rain had come for months in Ngwanangi, Tanzania. The Basukuma people with whom I work grow rice, beans, corn, and cotton. Everything depends on the rain. I joined the women in our community who made a pilgrimage to the parish church every day, begging the Blessed Virgin Mary to intercede with Jesus to bring rain… After a month of prayer, I was discouraged. Suddenly it started to rain! The delay was explained by a woman who told me, ‘Sister, heaven is very far away. God just heard us!’”

Lay Missioner Barbara Fraser

“When I climbed on a crowded bus in Lima, Peru, where I work as a Maryknoll Lay Missioner, I was not surprised to see a portrait of the Sacred Heart of Jesus bolted above the driver’s seat. Peruvians are people of faith and display religious images everywhere. But this time there was something new. The tiny red votive lamp under the picture was wired to the bus’s brakes. Every time the driver hit the brake pedal, he lit the lamp – a bright prayer of supplication on Lima’s busy, dangerous streets.”

Lay Missioner Barbara Fraser (center) in Lima, Peru
Fr. Bernard Meyer with the congregation of Tungchen, China c.1920

Fr. Bernard Meyer

“After supper, which is late in this busy season, the ‘town crier’ makes the rounds of the eight or so streets, but instead of profane remarks on the time and weather, he yells: “Time for evening prayers – quick – hustle! Time for evening prayers!”… But this crowd of over one hundred and fifty does not go to the church, because we have no church here. Instead, the first twenty people fit into the largest room in town, the next thirty pack into the courtyard and entrance, while the majority throng the alley outside. And this is not on Sunday only, but every single night of the week…”

These moments of prayer continue today as Maryknoll Fathers, Brothers, Sisters, and Lay Missioners pray for their friends, relatives, and mission communities. The prayers witnessed by Maryknollers and the prayers Maryknollers pray remind us that missioners have felt God’s presence all over the world, and feel called to share that presence each day.