SPECIAL TO THE CATHOLIC HERALD
Established as the Apostleship of Prayer, and renamed by Pope Francis, the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network communicates the Holy Father’s monthly intentions to more than 50 million members in 89 countries, seeking to mobilize people in prayer and action. Its youth branch, the Eucharistic Youth Movement, is present in 56 countries.
In the United States, Fr. William Blazek, SJ, led the organization for the past three years out of an office on the Marquette University campus and left to pursue his tertianship, the final phase of Jesuit formation. Carrying on as the new director is Fr. Joseph Laramie, SJ, who began July 1.
PWPN traces its roots to France, where in 1844 a group of Jesuit seminarians, excited to begin as missionaries, were instructed by their spiritual director, Fr. Francis Xavier Gautrelet, SJ, to use their time and talents for the salvation of souls as “apostles of prayer.” In 1879, the group received its first statutes, approved by Pope Pius IX. From the beginning, the Apostleship of Prayer, also devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, has been entrusted by the pope to the Jesuits.
Since the earliest days, popes have entrusted the faithful with their intentions, which are spread throughout the world each day. The PWPN addresses the challenges facing humanity and assists the mission of the Church. Catholics pray and work to meet the challenges of the world identified by the Pope in his monthly intentions, while walking a spiritual path called the “Way of the Heart.”
Fr. Frederic Fornos, SJ, announced from Vatican City that he named Fr. Laramie for the position as National Director for the USA. Archbishop Jose Gomez, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, approved the appointment.
Ordained in 2011, Fr. Laramie recently served as a campus minister at his alma mater, St. Louis University, where he worked with students on retreat, service projects and in a residence hall. He is the author of Abide in the Heart of Christ: a 10-Day Personal Retreat with St. Ignatius Loyola, based on the Spiritual Exercises. He also served as spiritual director at White House Retreat, as well as teacher and director of pastoral ministry at Rockhurst High School in Kansas City, Missouri.
“I am very excited to be here in Milwaukee and to be living on the Marquette University campus,” he said. “It is really an honor and I am excited to be asked to step in the great roles of Fr. Blazek and Fr. (James) Kubicki, who served for 14 years. Fr. Jim was from Milwaukee and moved the office from New York to here. They are both great guys and I am proud to call them friends.”
Fr. Laramie’s role covers Texas to the North Pole, which is a bit daunting for the 42-year-old, and the only full-time employee in North America.
“I am honored, but a bit nervous about this role. I do have a part-time office manager and there is another guy who handles all of the social media stuff — he is connected with the Eucharistic Youth Movement,” he said. “They have a strong Vietnamese Catholic Community in the EYM in the U.S. and Canada. “The group is analogous to the scouting movement; they also have a devotion for the Sacred Heart, a faith formation aspect and spirit of service, including retreats.”
The PWPN in North America provides all English language content for the Holy Father’s Click to Pray App. Hundreds of thousands of English speakers are reached through the app each month. The U.S. website hosts tens of thousands of visitors monthly, sharing “The Way of the Heart” and the “Pope Video.”
The Pope Video is the Vatican platform Pope Francis entrusts to share his monthly prayer intentions, in which he draws the world’s attention to “the challenges facing humanity.” This ecclesial service, now a Pontifical Work, celebrated its 175th anniversary with a papal audience in Rome last June. In the U.S., it has remained deeply committed to a direct postal mail-ministry to the incarcerated, the homebound and those without internet access.
“In addition to sending out daily prayers, such as morning devotions, mid-day examination of conscience, and prayers associated with the Sacred Heart devotions, I will be giving talks, making videos and, hopefully, doing retreats. Right now, everything is different due to COVID-19, but hopefully we will soon do some activities in person,” said Fr. Laramie. “I also hope to connect with some of the Jesuits at Marquette and get to know the kids on campus. While I am a little nervous, this has propelled me into prayer, and I trust that Christ has led me here and has great things planned.”
Fr. Laramie invites anyone associated with a parish or school in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and beyond to reach out to him about leading retreats or giving a talk.
“I love my new state and am eager to get started,” he said.
FR. LARAMIE’S BOOK
Fr. Joseph Laramie’s book, “Abide in the Heart of Christ: A 10-Day Personal Retreat with St. Ignatius Loyola,” is available through Ave Maria Press or through Amazon.
He will appear on EWTN Live with Fr. Mitch Pacwa this summer.
To join the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, visit https://www.popesprayer.va.