A group of parishioners at St. John the Baptist in Kenmore is compiling a booklet of prayers submitted by parishioners which it plans to distribute as a gift to the community. The intention is to make the book specifically by and for St. John the Baptist parishioners. The prayers will deal with a variety of topics related to love, special intentions and others.
Mary Porter, a member of the parish prayer book volunteer team, said the prayer book has been something special with her coming from a "very Catholic family." Porter's oldest sister is a former Sister of St. Mary of Namur who now lives in Syracuse. One year at Christmas time, she presented Porter with a parish prayer booklet that was done by two parishes in the Syracuse area. Porter started thumbing through the booklet and thought about St. John the Baptist Parish doing something like it.
"I talked to her about it, and I talked to some people in our parish about it," Porter said. "They said talk to Father Michael Parker (pastor)."
After explaining the concept of the prayer booklet to Father Parker, Porter began to gather a group of parishioners to help with the early stages of planning. She expected to get five or six volunteers, but ended up with a team of 13. They have met every month since last August to plan the book.
The volunteer team will be holding an appeal to cover the costs of paying for the printing and production, but the book will be provided for free. The team plans to have the booklets ready for distribution to the faith community on the first Sunday of Advent.
Members of the volunteer team include Dorothy Brigante, Virginia Carl, Joan LaDuca, Catherine Laski, John and Judy McFadden, Ray Metzger, Sharon Murphy, Mary Louise and Walter Sharrow, Kate Washington and Judy Wilkie. Each of the members is responsible for a different portion of the production, including layout, proofreading, typing, prayer categories and editing.
The team met several times and decided to include categories for prayers for different circumstances. In the process, Porter decided to include prayers from schoolchildren. She worked with Cynthia Jacobs, principal of St. John the Baptist School, to get some of their contributions. As of March, she had received more than 100 prayers from the children and over 170 personal prayers for the book.
"This book is going to be a book of prayer that is written, as much as possible, by the person handing in the prayer," Porter said. "It's called personal prayer, but if they have something like Bishop Richard J. Malone, his favorite prayer is the Prayer of Abandonment by Blessed Charles de Foucauld, that's included. We have developed 12 categories of prayer through reviewing what we got. The very first group of prayer is called 'spiritual leadership,' and it includes everybody, from prayers written by St. John Neumann down to our youth director. The next category is the Blessed Mother and her prayers. The third category is youth."
Porter said that people in the parish should be able to read through the book on a bad day, and hopefully have it affect their thinking and change their day.
"That's our gift," Porter said. "Literally, I am doing this as a labor of love, as are the other people. I'm shocked, the people we've got on this team. We've got professors from Canisius. We've got professors from Bryant and Stratton. We've got a 92-year-old who is a dynamo. These people care, and they care about the parish and the word 'prayer.'"
Porter said she undertook the effort for three specific reasons: her love of prayer, her love of the parish and her belief in the power of prayer.
"I have physically seen prayers that I have said work, for causes of people for other things," she said. "It's my life and I believe in it."
For more information contact Mary Porter at 941-224-4599 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.