The March 17, 1991 issue of the periodical "Catholic Twin Circle" had an article written by Fr. Herbert Smith, S.J. It was entitled "The Pope's Own Prayer Group." It told the history of the Apostleship of Prayer and the annual process by which the Pope gives to the Church and the world two very specific monthly intentions. Given the fact that the Apostleship of Prayer has prayed for these monthly intentions of the Holy Father for over a century, the name, "The Pope's Prayer Group," is fitting.
Recently Fr. Claudio Barriga, S.J., our international leader, had a new idea. Since the monthly intentions are chosen well in advance of the actual month, how about encouraging people to join the Holy Father in praying for his urgent prayer intentions that periodically come up? It seemed like a good idea to us and so last fall we began to publish Pope Benedict's urgent prayer requests on the home page of our web site. Last week, when the earthquake struck Haiti, we immediately went into action.
The quake hit on Tuesday. On Wednesday, in his weekly General Audience, Pope Benedict asked the world to join him in special prayers for the people of Haiti. That same day I received an email message from a friend in California whose husband is a member of the board of directors of Catholic Relief Services. Her message included an internal brief from Catholic Relief Services that included information as well as a prayer. On Thursday we sent out an email to our members and we posted on our web site Pope Benedict's urgent prayer request for Haiti as well as news, quotes from the Holy Father, and an adapted version of the CRS prayer. Our posting was picked up almost immediately by Fr. Jim Martin, S.J., an associate editor at "America" magazine, who added the prayer to his blog. Another blog called "The Deacon's Bench" picked the prayer up from there and the Facebook site for the Society of Jesus also posted the prayer. Then the influential blog "Whispers in the Loggia" posted the prayer.
I've been deeply consoled to be a part of this new dimension of "The Pope's Prayer Group." As we continue to connect people with the Holy Father's concerns and the needs of the world, I am praying that people will not only pray for Haiti but that their prayer will lead them to do something to help. That's why we posted information about donating to Catholic Relief Services as well as their beautiful prayer.