Raised as a Protestant, Sara Jane MacArthur encountered an unexpected spiritual mentor during her college years: the Blessed Mother.
“She was really instrumental in my conversion to Catholicism in 1963,” said MacArthur, now a parishioner of St. Monica Parish in Berwyn. “I’ve been devoted to her ever since.”
MacArthur shared her story at a May 23 discussion on Catholic belief about Mary, hosted by St. John the Baptist Parish in Bridgeport.
The session was coordinated by the Society of Patricians, part of the Legion of Mary lay apostolate. Founded in 1921, the Legion of Mary supports the church through prayer and works of service in about 170 countries.
“The purpose of this event is to get Catholic lay people comfortable with talking about their faith,” said Steve Lukens, a member of the group and a convert to Catholicism. Lukens’ wife, Edel, had arranged the talk.
MacArthur freely shared the details of how Mary shaped her journey to the Catholic faith, noting that her family had belonged to several Protestant denominations, depending on where they were living at the time.
“I went through the instructions,” she said. “I attended Sunday services, Sunday school, and I thought ‘there’s something more’.”
While studying at St. Joseph’s University (then St. Joseph’s College), she confided in a fellow student that she was curious about Mary. The student introduced her to a priest, who invited her to join him for a few sessions on Catholic belief.
It was in the fourth session — the one on Mary — that MacArthur experienced a dramatic personal revelation. “It was like an interlocution,” she said. “I was sitting there listening … and I actually had a sensation go right across my forehead; I can still feel it. I sat there in shock.” She decided to become Catholic after that session.
MacArthur’s devotion to Mary has continued to flourish. In her talk, MacArthur focused on Mary’s role as the mother of God who became the mother of all through Christ’s proclamation from the cross: “Woman, behold, your son … Behold, your mother” (John 19:26,27).
Following the presentation, attendees engaged in a lively discussion about Marian devotion. The topic was an especially significant one for the community of St. John the Baptist. The parish is comprised of two former Anglican parishes that merged earlier in the decade under the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter, the North American diocese created by Pope Benedict XVI for Anglican parishes seeking full communion with the Roman Catholic Church.
Almost all of the participants shared a reflection on their understanding of Mary as mother. Peter Creciun observed that the practice of Marian consecration recommended by St. Louis de Montfort has been highly effective.
“I feel like I’ve seen a lot of fruits in my life,” said Creciun, who attends Sacred Heart Parish in Swedesburg.
Like Mary, Creciun feels a strong call to share the Gospel with others.
“I want to get better at evangelizing and saying this is what I believe and why I believe it,” he said.
Join the CatholicPhilly.com family
CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you and hundreds of other people become part of our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community and sustain CatholicPhilly.com as your trusted news source. Thank you in advance!
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103