BY SARAH ALLISON
Female students of Franciscan University have formed an intercessory prayer team to support the young men participating in Red Light Ministry as they pray quietly outside a strip club in Weirton, West Virginia, every week.
Mary Beth Vernau, founder of Prodigal Daughter Ministries, along with other female students, envisioned the creation of a weekly intercessory team. One of the charisms of Vernau’s household Daughters of Jerusalem is intercessory prayer.
Since last semester, a group of young women meet with the men as they prepare to leave. The women then have a holy hour in the chapel of Sts. Kolbe and Clare Hall. They recite the rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet and have time for silent prayer. Attendance varies from 10 to 20 week to week.
“Lots of girls come from many different households,” said Vernau. “It’s cool to be united as women from different walks of life and perspectives.”
Junior Therese Thomason found the environment of the holy hour prayerful and calm.
“It’s a way to help in a ministry that normally girls can’t help in,” said Thomason.
Recently, the women received a call that one woman had left her job at the strip club.
“It’s beautiful to see prayers have a direct impact,” said Thomason.
Although the process remains very simple, Vernau and others have worked on developing it into more of a ministry and are trying out ideas for greater intercession and sacrifice. Once they prayed outside in the snow. A couple of weeks ago, they delivered hot chocolate to the men who were praying at the club.
“The highlight of my week is sitting in a chapel Friday night praying, and I never thought I’d say that,” said Vernau, calling the opportunity “a true honor.”
“It was below freezing last week,” Vernau continued. Seeing the men praying and kneeling in the snow was “the most powerful witness I’ve ever seen in my life,” she said. “It inspired me to do it as well. As men and women, we are fulfilling our truest vocation, which is to love and serve each other.”
Recently, the strip club has been shut down Friday nights for renovations, but the men still go there to pray. This has given them the opportunity to talk with more people and to evangelize.
This semester Red Light Ministry kicked off with the Man Event on Jan. 17, and 133 men attended. Red Light Ministry is sponsored by Franciscan University’s Men’s Ministry.