“Politicians won’t change the world, mothers on their knees will,” says Marta Pope, coordinator of the Mothers In Prayer group in Queens.
Every Wednesday at 10 a.m., mothers from Our Lady of Mount Carmel parish, Astoria, gather to pray for children around the world.
They offer the prayers in union with mothers in 118 countries who say the prayers in 40 different languages.
“Knowing that all these moms are praying for my kid – that’s very powerful,” Pope said.
“Our charism is to surrender our children to God’s hands, to put them in His care,” she said. “It frees you to cooperate with God’s goodness and mercy. I became more trusting in His Providence.”
As part of the service, the mothers take a piece of round white paper shaped like the Eucharist, with their children’s name on it, and put in an offertory basket.
Pope said that since joining the international mothers’ network and beginning her own local chapter, she has become less anxious and worries less about her son who is now in college. She said she even found a way to let his friends know that they are loved.
When he brings his friends over, she tells them that she prays for them every Wednesday morning. She said being so specific catches them off guard, and the lighthearted manner she says it in, helps them not feel intimidated.
Pope said she has realized that prayers can be more important to give her child than any material possesion. It may also be a greater sacrifice to quiet down for half an hour to pray for a child than to work for them.
“We all need prayers, and we are all children in God’s eyes,” said Joyce Cosgrove, a spiritual mother in the group. She does not have her own biological children, but she comes to the group to pray for her godchildren and children around the world.
Cosgrove said the group helps her feel a sense of purpose.
“Things you hear in the news – you feel so powerless,” she said. “This is what is going to help. … It’s the only thing that works. He is the creator. He can do anything.”
Elana Samek said she prays for the children her daughter works with in a pediatric emergency room. She said the suffering these children face is incredible, but she knows they have a Father who knows their suffering.
“When I pray, I think of Jesus Christ,” she said. “He suffered for us so much.”
“I trust in the power of prayer,” said Lilia Forero. She equates the Mothers in Prayer to children in a family all coming together to ask their parents something. If they work together, they are more likely to succeed.
Forero is part of the Spanish Mothers in Prayer group at Our Lady of Mount Carmel that meets at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesdays. This allows mothers to drop off their children in CCD class and pray for them as they learn.
“We are like family,” said Rosalba Torres, a member of the Spanish group.
The groups offer women a sense of support, knowing that there are other mothers who care about them. One of the rules of the international Mothers in Prayer is to not offer advice during meetings. Instead, mothers are asked to listen and bring everything before God.
“Being a mother is such an underappreciated vocation,” Pope said. Therefore, it is helpful to spend time in prayer with women who truly understand.
Pope has been asked to send starter packets to people all around the country, and some local parishes have expressed a desire to start their own group.
However, since she knows that many women are unable to attend meetings, the local mothers started a Facebook group that allows mothers to pray even if they cannot be physically present.