Fr. Justin Huang blesses a St. Anthony of Padua parishioner. A new initiative is pairing priests in the Archdiocese of Vancouver with women who will be spiritual mothers for them. B.C. Catholic photo

Vancouver priests get new ‘spiritual mothers’

By 
  • June 5, 2022

VANCOUVER -- A Maple Ridge, B.C., woman has launched an initiative whose goal is to pair each of the Vancouver archdiocese’s 200-plus priests with a woman who is committed to praying for him every day.

Elizabeth Loch, 71, a St. Patrick’s parishioner, said that just a few months into her drive the project has already found 48 women willing to “adopt a priest.”

“The idea has been on my heart for a while,” said Loch.

She started thinking about it after learning of a woman in Regina who had started a prayer-for-priests program, but Loch said she felt a similar project in Vancouver would be too big for her to manage. After prayer and discernment, however, she decided to proceed.

“I just put it in God’s hands, surrender it to the Lord,” Loch said. “If He wants it, He will take care of it. I feel it’s not my project. I feel it’s the Lord’s.”

The project’s practical purpose is “to build up the Church, one priest, one seminarian at a time,” she said. But there’s also a deeper intent.

“Every priest is another Christ, and therefore deserves our daily prayers and sacrifices,” she said. “Every woman who adopts a priest is like our Mother Mary. Our ‘fiat’ is like Mary’s fiat to St. Gabriel the Archangel at the Annunciation when she became the Mother of God.”

Working with a friend, Loch produced a series of prayer pamphlets for volunteers. There’s even one suitable to download on a cellphone. Each woman will be assigned one archdiocesan priest for whom she will say three short prayers on a daily basis. In addition, each woman is to spend one hour a week in eucharistic adoration.

The prayer commitment, Loch said, is for life. Moreover, the priest adopters are encouraged to continue praying for their adoptee even after he passes away.

Cheryl Kranabetter, a Surrey resident who is a member of Holy Family Parish in Vancouver, joined with enthusiasm as soon as she learned of the project. In fact, the homeschooling mother-of-four had attempted to launch a similar project seven years ago but found she did not have the time or energy to make it a success.

Kranabetter said her project was inspired by the prayer and contemplation she committed herself to after losing a son at birth eight years ago.

“There was just this immense love and care for this soul,” she said. “And somehow the importance of a soul for the person became so important.”

That insight led, in turn, to a recognition of how priests are so important in guiding souls to Heaven.

“But they need our help,” she said, “and with the love that I had for my (lost) son, it just needed to be poured out into another ... A holy priest can touch so many souls — many, many souls.”

Inspiration also came from a pamphlet she came across entitled “Spiritual Motherhood for Priests” and from reading Story of a Soul by St. Therese of Lisieux.

“After having the call to pray for priests, I happened to read her book which helped me confirm the importance of this call,” she said.

Loch said her pastor at St. Patrick’s, archdiocesan vocations director Fr. Paul Goo, has approved of the project and encouraged her to circulate her promotional flyers throughout the archdiocese.

Goo said the prayer project could be considered as an apostolate of the Regnum Christi Federation, a Catholic organization whose mission is to build the kingdom of Christ.

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