By Rev. Peter R. Stryker, CPM, Rector, Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help
Growing up in Cincinnati, Ohio, I was blessed with two brothers and three sisters! And not long after I arrived to serve here at the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help, one of my sisters said to me: “I’ll bet Dad had something to do with your new assignment!”
Excellent observation! Our Dad died at the age of 98 in 2008, and along with Mom he always gave us Stryker children a wonderful example of devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and her Rosary. I can remember all of us frequently kneeling together and praying the Rosary in our living room. The Rosary is the wonderful Gospel Prayer, and praying it always brings us into deeper friendship with Christ Jesus, our Heavenly Father, and the Holy Spirit. And of course, families that pray together stay together!
When it came to discerning my vocation to religious life and the priesthood, I entrusted the entire journey to Mary. It was only after I entered the Fathers of Mercy that I learned Pope Gregory XVI, in 1834, explicitly placed our recently formed community under the protection of the Immaculate Conception. The Fathers of Mercy are, indeed, a Marian religious community!
Here at the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help, it is a constant joy to see so many pilgrims and other visitors entrusting their needs and intentions to the Queen of Heaven, the Mother of God! Mary’s words to Adele Brise in 1859 remain an urging and challenge for each of us: “Gather the children in this wild country and teach them what they should know for salvation.”
Given that things are still kind of wild in this country, we all do well, to the best of our ability, to study, live, and teach our Catholic faith. And we do that best when we do it with the Mary, the Queen of Heaven, assisting us along our walk with Jesus toward greater holiness and true happiness!
Our Lady of Good Help, pray for us!