Mother Mary Catherine brings peaceful prayer to parishes

Lectio Divina is topic of presentations around diocese

CHILTON – Leslie Schuette and Daphne Grybush aren’t members of Good Shepherd Parish, but they knew that Mother Mary Catherine would make them feel at ease at the Lectio Divina prayer service at the church on a recent evening.

Mother Mary Catherine is pictured at St. Bernard Church in Green Bay offering a presentation on Lectio Divina, which she describes as “a contemplative prayer that involves listening to the Gospel with your heart.” The superior of the Missionaries of the Word religious community spoke at Good Shepherd Church in Chilton on Nov. 5. Future presentations around the diocese are also scheduled. (Sam Lucero | The Compass)

“Her voice is so calming and she’s so insightful,” Schuette said after the Nov. 5 service. Grybush, who, like Schuette, is a member of SS. Peter and Paul Parish in nearby Kiel, agreed. “She speaks with such joy,” Grybush said.

Both women were familiar with Mother Mary Catherine, who worked alongside St. Teresa of Kolkata in New York City in the 1980s and, more recently, founded the Missionaries of the Word community of religious sisters in Baileys Harbor.

She began the hour-long service by telling the 25 people in attendance what Lectio Divina is not. “It’s not a homily, and it’s not a Gospel reflection,” she said.

“It’s a contemplative prayer that involves listening to the Gospel with your heart. As you’re chewing on it, something just hits you and you find yourself talking to the Lord, heart to heart,” she said.

Mother Mary Catherine told her listeners that she has used this type of prayer for many years, particularly with youth. “Young people believe the lie that they’re a disappointment to Jesus because they keep messing up,” she said. “Let him look at you and love you. He is beholding us right now,” she said, turning to the Blessed Sacrament displayed in a monstrance on the altar behind her.

Mother Mary Catherine was in Chilton as part of a series of weekly prayer services she’s leading throughout the Diocese of Green Bay, which began Oct. 1 and will continue at least until the end of April. Among her visits this winter will be parishes in Tigerton, Weyauwega, Shawano and Wautoma.

At each parish, she reads aloud the Gospel for the following weekend and then asks the listeners to use their senses to put themselves into the Scripture. On this night, she read the parable of the Ten Virgins from the Gospel of Matthew and suggested that it was a story of faith and surrender to God’s will. She then stepped away from the microphone and asked the people to answer this question for themselves, in the quiet of the dimly lit church: “What does that look like in your life?”

Despite a rigorous schedule, Mother Mary Catherine said the time is right to help people quiet themselves in prayer. “The voices of the world are getting louder, causing static, confusion, fear and anxiety in the hearts of good people of all ages,” she told The Compass in an interview.

“Fear seems to dominate many hearts. There is one voice that pierces all this static and confusion, and that is the voice of Jesus,” she said.

She told listeners that she is a “hugger,” but, due to the coronavirus, she was only able to hug them “in my heart.”

“There is still a way to hear another’s heart, even at a distance, if we both accept the oddity of it all and choose to still be human and communicate,” she said.

Lectio Divina schedule

People throughout the Diocese of Green Bay will have an opportunity to participate in Lectio Divina, led by Mother Mary Catherine, either in person or online, during the next six months.

The superior of the Missionaries of the Word in Baileys Harbor will visit one parish each week and guide people in contemplative prayer, which will focus on the Gospel for the following weekend.

A complete listing can be found on the website, missionariesoftheword.com, along with Mother Mary Catherine’s weekly presentation.

On Dec. 10, St. Pius X Parish in Appleton will livestream the presentations at 2 and 6 p.m. Video of that event will also be posted on the CIA-Faith Mission Operatives website, bit.ly/cia-fmo. Some parishes, including St. Pius X, ask people to preregister due to restrictions on attendance due to COVID-19.