Our prayer group officially started March 1996. We decided on Friday night and it has worked out for us. We decided on the name a couple of months later. It was much later that I learned it was Pope John Paul II’s signature. We meet from 6:30P.M. until 8:30 P.M. at St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Bartow, which is 13 miles south of Lakeland. We have the privilege of meeting in the Church, with the Blessed Sacrament, which has always meant so much to our group. We begin with petitions, and then we say a Spiritual Rosary followed by singing praise. One person each week does a small teaching. This is done alphabetically and it is amazing how intertwined our teachings have been. It has been the right thing to say at the right moment, or “Spirit Blessed”. We end with petitions and the Divine Mercy Chaplet in front of the Blessed Sacrament. It is a wonderful way to start the weekend. After a long week you feel like curling up on the couch and relaxing. Going to prayer group is like taking a long rest as you have so much energy when you get home.
On the First Friday of the Month we diverse from our regular agenda and have petitions and then we start adoration with the Rosary. We sit quietly before the Blessed Sacrament for an hour. At the end we say the Divine Mercy Chaplet. We have also started Adoration on Sunday after the 10:30 mass until 2:00. Most of the attendees are prayer group members with a small group of church members joining us.
We have kept our base of regular attendees. Others have joined the group and some have moved on. We have between 8 to 20 people come. Our base is 9. The majority is women, but we do have men attend occasionally. We are always pleased to see the occasional visitors.
Some of our projects that we have done is to feed the poor, donations to a women and her children, who live locally, and food baskets for the poor.
Last year we decided to read and discuss the “Interior Castle” by St. Theresa of Avila, but decided that we did not want to give up our prayer group time to do this. During lent we met on Tuesday night at different homes, where the person hosting would make a soup for the evening, which was our Lenten meal. We would discuss the book by chapters or sub-chapters depending on the length of the chapters. We are all at a different time and space in our prayer life, but just reading and having the ideas of others to filter into our lives helped move some of us forward. We would meet at 6:00P.M. and be home by 8:00P.M. which is so important to many people.
We also have once a month birthday, if there is a member of our group who is having a birthday that month. Our last birthday was held at the Olive Garden and we had thirteen in attendance, which was appropriate for October, the month of Mary. Our table seems to have so much fun and it is a chance for us to meet our group in another setting besides the prayer group. It has brought the group a lot closer to one another.
I know I have come a long way in the last 9 years and I have become a good friend with people you can depend on to be there for you.