Carolyn Rich organized the consecration at Immaculate Conception Church. “I want to see this consecration happen all throughout the Archdiocese of Portland," she said. "It will bring about holy marriages, priests, women called to the religious life.” (Courtesy Mary Sangster)
Carolyn Rich organized the consecration at Immaculate Conception Church. “I want to see this consecration happen all throughout the Archdiocese of Portland," she said. "It will bring about holy marriages, priests, women called to the religious life.” (Courtesy Mary Sangster)

STAYTON — Mary, doing what moms often do, recently brought together people of all ages and backgrounds for a significant event.

On Dec. 12, the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, around 100 Spanish and English speakers from multiple generations were consecrated to Mary at Immaculate Conception Church here.

“The truth about mothers in the home and of the Blessed Mother is that they gather people in,” said Carolyn Rich, who organized the consecration. “This year many of us have missed the Christmas and Thanksgiving celebrations, when mom makes sure everyone is showing up and keeps track of who is bringing what.”

But the consecration Mass, celebrated by Portland Auxiliary Bishop Peter Smith, was an even more powerful “gathering of the family,” Rich said.

A consecration is a formal way of dedicating oneself to the service of a religious or divine purpose. “It’s a way of saying: ‘I follow you’ or ‘I trust you,’” explained Rich. The Marian consecration means giving mind, body and soul to Mary.

“Mothers know their kids,” she said. “They hear a sound and know, ‘OK, Henry is hungry or tired or sad.’ Mary carried Jesus for nine months and raised him with St. Joseph. No one knows him like Mary. So she’s a beautiful person to lead us to Jesus.”

Entrusting oneself to Mary’s care and intercession is nothing new. Jesus entrusted his beloved disciple, John, to Mary while dying on the cross.

A formal method of consecration to Mary was developed by St. Louis de Montfort in the 1600s, and his 33-day prayer was used by those consecrated at Immaculate Conception. The culmination is a special prayer held on a Marian feast day, ideally within a Mass. Consecration can be renewed each year.

Patricia Dol, a campus minister at Regis St. Mary School, was one of several staff members who renewed their consecration this December. Though most participated in person at the Mass, following state and archdiocesan health guidelines, the event also was livestreamed for those remaining at home.

“The renewal was beautiful,” said Dol. Whether present physically or virtually, “as one church and with one voice we confessed our love for Mary, entrusting our lives and our pilgrim journey to her.”

Women pray in front of an Our Lady of Guadalupe image at Immaculate Conception Church in Stayton following their consecration to Mary. (Courtesy Mary Sangster)

Rich, youth minister for parishes in the Santiam Vicariate, organized the first consecration at the parish last year. Initially only high school youths planned to participate, but interest quickly grew, and along with 60 teens many area Catholics were consecrated. All the faithful of the vicariate were invited this year, and entire families were consecrated together.

“It was extra meaningful to have it on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe,” said Jazmin Ramirez, whose family is from Michoacán, Mexico. “I was full of emotion. For many of us Our Lady of Guadalupe is part of our roots, and my grandma, who died nine years ago, taught me so much about her.”

Ramirez arranged flowers on the altar for the occasion with her aunts and sister. “We all worked together to make it beautiful for Our Lady,” she said.

Stress has permeated the coronavirus pandemic, said Ramirez, but the 33 days of prayer gave her peace. “I’ve never experienced that kind of peace before,” she said.

Rich first consecrated herself to Mary years ago. “I had no preparation,” she said. “At the time I struggled with Mary. I just didn’t connect with her.”

But someone she trusted in young adult ministry encouraged her to participate.

“Mothers have a beautiful way of accepting you where you are and moving you — gently, in a motherly way — forward,” said Rich. “I can see so many things beginning then, and it started with me showing up.”

Within the group of around 20 consecrated with Rich, four went on to pursue religious life.

“I want to see this consecration happen all throughout the Archdiocese of Portland,” she said. “It will bring about holy marriages, priests, women called to the religious life. It is not instantaneous, but I know it will be fruitful.”

Immaculate Conception Parish also is holding a consecration to St. Joseph during the Year of St. Joseph, which runs Dec. 8, 2020–Dec. 8, 2021.

katies@catholicsentinel.org