Marians of the Immaculate Conception
Fr. Michael Gaitley urges people to Jesus through Mary.
Marians of the Immaculate Conception
Fr. Michael Gaitley urges people to Jesus through Mary.
There I was, hurtling down the country roads en route to school, listening to the local Catholic radio station. The morning show host and his guest, an enthusiastic and kind-sounding woman, were talking about a program that was “new” and “exciting.” Only, I couldn’t quite catch what they were saying over my noisy children in the backseat.

“Please, you guys!” I begged my beloved offspring. “Mommy is trying to listen!”

What was the woman saying? I still couldn’t quite make it out. “You guyyyys!!” I yelled back at my children, otherwise known as they-who-could-not-be-shushed. Something about getting closer to Jesus? Maybe a book and meeting together with a group of people? “Oh!” I concluded. “She must be talking about a Bible study.”

Whatever it was, I decided I was interested – really interested. We’d moved across the country less than six months before, and I was beginning to slowly recover from the shell shock of a new house, community, culture, baby, job, and missing my family and friends. I could sense my natural extroversion atrophying by the minute. I needed something — anything — as an impetus to finally connect with flesh-and-blood people who were over four feet tall. Facilitating a ready-made Bible study sounded just like what the doctor ordered. At that moment, I was a woman on a mission.

Fast forward a couple of weeks, and the study materials I’d ordered were due to arrive at any moment. Several new friends kindly accepted my invitation to meet at our parish, and I had somehow sweet-talked one friend into employing her teenagers to babysit all the younger children at her house. We had the who, where, what and how all lined up and ready to roll. Although I had absolutely no idea what was required of me as facilitator, I wasn’t worried. The kind lady on the radio said everything I needed would be in the kit I’d ordered. I kept an eager eye out for the UPS delivery truck and waited.

Two days before the first meeting, a large box finally arrived. I felt like a kid at Christmas as I tore through packing material and eyeballed the participants’ books. I tossed them aside and sought the facilitator’s guide with laser-like focus. At last: the blueprint. “Let’s get this party started!” I exclaimed.

I began flipping through the pages, quickly, at first, and then, when nothing familiar caught my eye, more slowly, and with increasing dread. Page after page confirmed the unfettered truth: This. Is. NOT. A. Bible. Study. I turned back to the cover page and read its contents for the very first time: “33 Days to Morning Glory: A Do-It-Yourself Retreat in Preparation for Marian Consecration,” by Father Michael Gaitley, a a member of the Marians of the Immaculate Conception.

I panicked. It was too late to find new material. Everything was in place. This wasn’t a Bible study, but I didn’t understand what it actually was. I wasn’t familiar with Marian Consecration, or Father Gaitley. I just knew the lady on the radio sounded very alive in her faith, and I knew that I wanted whatever it was she was talking about. I decided humbly to approach my new friends, apologize for misleading them, and hope for the best. Blessedly, no one dropped out because of my ignorance. And so our adventure with Mary began.

After meeting weekly over the summer months of 2013, several of my new friends and I consecrated our lives to Jesus through the Immaculate Heart of Mary on the Feast of the Assumption of Mary at St. Lawrence Parish in Fairhope, Alabama, and it changed my life. I am forever indebted to Father Michael Gaitley for being the humble steward of a message that is so necessary for our time.  

Fast forward again to our move back to Oregon, when I began attending a women’s group at St. Cecilia Parish. Some of us branched off to read Father Gaitley’s book “Consoling the Heart of Jesus,” which was another game-changer for me. Having read Father’s books, I sought every opportunity to see and hear him in person, to no avail. Thanks be to God and the persistent and patient efforts of my friend, Betsy, my prayer is answered: Father Gaitley is coming to Oregon!

Whether or not you are familiar with Father Gaitley’s work, I cannot recommend enough that you take the time to attend the life-changing Mercy and Mary Retreat at St. Cecilia Parish in Beaverton the weekend of Feb. 10­-12. The retreat includes five all-new talks with Father Gaitley, time for quiet prayer, adoration, confession, and Holy Mass. All meals are included. Early-bird pricing ends Jan. 20, and general registration closes Jan. 31. Visit events.marianmissionaries.org for details and tickets. Finally, I can promise two things: This retreat is not a Bible study and you will not regret going.

The writer is a wife and mother in the wilds of suburban Portland.