Photo by Elena Mirus
Following its first holy hour of the semester Sept. 23, Franciscan University of Steubenville’s branch of the Militia Immaculata continued its daily efforts of Marian devotion and prayer for the conversion of souls.
A worldwide movement founded in 1917 by St. Maximilian Kolbe, the Militia Immaculata has had a branch in Franciscan since 2011. The club at the university dissolved after some time, but returned in the fall of 2018 under the leadership of alumnus Antonino Castellano.
Now Militia Immaculata on campus, composed of between 10 and 20 tentative members, is led by its new president, sophomore Will Sharp. Sharp became the Militia Immaculata’s president over the summer of 2020, nearly a year after he first became involved with the club.
Militia Immaculata, Sharp said, seeks the conversion of souls through prayer and the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
“The goal of the Militia Immaculata,” Sharp said, “is to pray for the conversion of souls, especially for those of the enemies of the Church, and the way that we go about that is through Marian consecration.”
Marian consecration is a foundational element of Militia Immaculata, Sharp said. This semester, members of the club will begin a nine-day consecration to Mary. At the end of the consecration, those involved will receive blessed miraculous medals, another integral aspect of the Militia Immaculata.
Furthermore, those members who wish to go an extra step with Militia Immaculata can officially enroll with the worldwide Militia Immaculata movement through an online process.
Devotion to Mary for Militia Immaculata extends beyond the consecration novena. Sharp said that living out the mission of Militia Immaculata daily means “praying and asking for our mother’s intercession because Mary is the one who will lead us to Jesus.”
“She’s the perfect example of how to be closer to him,” said Sharp. “So we try to grow closer to her, and through her we also grow closer to Jesus.”
Through this devotion to Mary, the Militia Immaculata prays for the conversion of the enemies of the Catholic Church. These enemies, Sharp said, include those who desecrate and disrespect the Church, its property and its sacraments.
“In general, the enemies of the Church are the ones who are most in need of mercy,” Sharp said. “If we don’t pray for them, they may never find Christ. … We hope they’ll find conversion, but even if they don’t, we want to pray for mercy for them as much as we can.”
To further this cause, the Militia Immaculata hosts monthly holy hours, which advocate sacrifices such as meaningful prayer and fasting to combat the sin pervasive in today’s society. These holy hours include Eucharistic adoration, praying of the rosary and praise and worship music.
The most recent holy hour was presided over by the Militia Immaculata’s chaplain, the Rev. Daniel Maria Klimek, TOR. In addition to the spiritual advisory of Klimek, Militia Immaculata is supervised by Daniel Miles, Franciscan University’s project manager of the president’s office.
Sharp said his favorite part about Militia Immaculata is how it promotes personal growth. He encouraged those seeking this development, spiritually in particular, to join the Militia Immaculata.
“(Militia Immaculata) is definitely a good investment of your time,” said Sharp. “It will help you grow closer to Jesus and to our mother, Mary, as well as (help you) to pray for other people, especially those who are most in need of it. … If anyone is interested in any of that, I’d recommend joining.”
The club, its meetings and its holy hours are all open to anyone interested. Meetings and holy hours occur once a month each. The next holy hours will be on Oct. 21 and Nov. 18. The next meeting will be on Nov. 5.