Vincentian Father Michael J. Carroll

“We have realized that we are on the same boat, all of us fragile and disoriented, but at the same time important and needed, all of us called to row together, each of us in need of comforting the other.” – Pope Francis, March 27, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged faith communities and people of faith throughout the world, as well as businesses, to adapt creatively in these uncertain times. It is a time for appropriate social distancing, but also a time when we instinctively seek comfort and support in one another. 

We at the Miraculous Medal Shrine in Philadelphia continue to “row together” with our faith community as we work to honor the rich history of the perpetual novena while prioritizing the safety and health of our community.

Father Joseph A. Skelly, C.M., created the Perpetual Novena to Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal on Dec. 8, 1930, and since then the novena has remained unbroken. 

Through times of war, severe weather and uncertainty, the Vincentian priests at the Germantown shrine have remained steadfast in their devotion to the intercession of Our Lady. In fact, our devotion does not waver, whether the novena is attended by 15,000 people, as it often was during World War II, or it is prayed privately and broadcast online, as it will be until the current pandemic is contained.

Our flexibility in the face of uncertainty is evidence of something we have always known to be true: The significance of the perpetual novena is not in the shrine itself, but in the community of the faithful who the pray the novena with us. 

We are encouraged by the prevalence of virtual opportunities for prayer, and we continue to offer our novena online each Monday at 9 a.m. at miraculousmedal.org/livestream or on Facebook at Facebook.com/miraculousmedalshrinePA. You can also find the novena prayers on our website (MiraculousMedal.org) to pray at home with your loved ones.

This time of isolation has the potential to be a time to grow in our faith, both personally and with our families. For the parents of children who are home from school, we are sending weekly emails with Marian-themed activities for children. Click here for this week’s activities and to sign up for further newsletters.

It’s our duty to continue to lead the faithful in intercessory prayer to Mary, especially now, as Pope Francis has encouraged us to seek refuge in Our Lady, Health of the Sick. However, we also have an important duty to follow the guidelines of our public health leaders and do our part to prevent the spread of illness in our communities. Adapting to these circumstances requires creativity, flexibility and great trust in God. 

We urge everyone to pray to Our Lady and hold tight to your Miraculous Medal for comfort and hope during this time of uncertainty, and always know that the Vincentian priests and brothers at the Miraculous Medal Shrine will be with you in prayer.

Our faith endures while we are apart, and we’ll continue to “row together.” We look forward to the day when we can meet again at the shrine. 

For up-to-date information about the shrine’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, links to the perpetual novena, and daily prayers from the Vincentian priests, we invite you to visit miraculousmedal.org/hope.

We also invite you to light a virtual vigil candle on our website. The lighting of a vigil candle is a symbol of hope that sanctifies prayer intentions through this time of uncertainty and concern. We will place your vigil candle intentions at the foot of the altar of the Miraculous Medal Shrine throughout the duration of the pandemic. To help with the cost of maintaining the vigil candles, we ask for a donation of your choice for each candle lit. 

Our Blessed Mother told St. Catherine Labouré, “Come to the foot of the altar. There graces will be shed upon all who ask for them.” To light a vigil candle, visit MiraculousMedal.org/hope.

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Father Michael Carroll, C.M., is the director of the Miraculous Medal Shrine in Germantown, Philadelphia.