PLAINFIELD — As the wife of a deacon and parish pastoral coordinator, Leigh Ann Trzinski is an everyday presence at St. Paul Church. “Being married to (Deacon) Jim Trzinski, I do a little of everything,” she said. “Marriage prep, help in RCIA, religious education, sacristan work, eucharistic work, keeping things organized. If there are any events at the church, I’m right there at his side doing whatever is needed.”
One active ministry she has introduced on her own is a prayer partner program for women. She got the idea from a woman at their prior parish, St. Maximilian in Amherst. That woman, in turn, had learned about it from her daughter in Seattle.
“It’s similar to a Secret Santa,” Trzinski said. Women who wish to participate fill out a form with their intentions and what they would like someone to pray for on their behalf. Names are drawn randomly, and for the next 12 months, the anonymous partner prays for that person’s requested intentions. At the end of the year, a potluck is held at which everyone finds out who their prayer partner had been.
“The basic purpose is to have someone praying with you and for you about a heavy intention that is holding you down in life – health, financial, fallen-away family members, military members,” said Trzinski. “The purpose behind it is to get people to start praying for each other.”
When she first got started in the prayer partner program, she asked her prayer partner to pray for her children in the military. Her daughter, Courtney, serves in the Navy and her son, Zach, was serving in the Army in Afghanistan.
Her son later told her, “Mom, I could tell you and others were praying for me. Even halfway around the world, I could feel it.”
She said the program is very effective because it highlights the power of prayer and is something very simple that anyone can do as part of their daily prayer routine.
“It brings the community of women closer together because they start paying attention to that person at Mass,” Trzinski said. “They learn how rewarding it is to pray for another person. It’s a wonderful way to bring women in our church community closer together without the time or physical effort a fund-raiser or putting on a dinner would take. It helps them grow in their faith.”
Trzinski has been heading the program since she and her husband came to St. Paul three years ago. About two dozen women participate each year and she said many women have told her they can tell when someone is praying for them and that their intentions are being fulfilled.
“They’ve gotten to know new women in our church community,” she said. “That extra prayer made them feel good.” She said many have told her, “You can really feel the power of prayer. I’ve never known that before.”
Many also have said that it helps them get through the difficult situations in their lives knowing someone is praying for them.
“I keep the program anonymous because, by human nature, people are uncomfortable asking for help,” Trzinski said. “This is a nice way for people to reach out and ask for help without having to feel uncomfortable about it.”
Trziksi is the executive director of First Choice Pregnancy Resource Center in Stevens Point and Wisconsin Rapids, a faith-based ministry that helps pregnant women understand their life-affirming options and support in whatever choice they make.
She said giving back to the parish is a joyful experience that should not be looked as an obligation. “God has always instructed us to be involved with our church,” she said. “Our church community is a family and it’s very important to treat everyone there as your family members. We are all children of God and it’s important to be together and enjoy that church family community.”
Trzinski said that seeing the joy that comes from building relationships at church is enough to keep her going. “That’s enough of a reward for me and what I try to help others understand.”
She said involvement in the church doesn’t have to be big or complicated, but could be activities that are childlike and done in a simple way, like those advocated by St. Therese of Lisieux.
“I try to follow in those same footsteps,” Trzinski said. “I try to remind myself that even just a smile and a hello could be something that is needed by someone at the moment. We don’t know what the person truly needs. It could be that simple.”