I remember sitting in ‘my’ favorite pew at daily mass in my little home parish in the northwest corner of New Jersey, on October 4th, 2016. I was downtrodden, as a project that Brother Joe Dudek and I had been working on to serve those suffering from addictions, did not come to fruition, through no fault of ours. I was dispirited, and the homily my pastor offered on the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi rolled off my ears in the distance. It was then that I felt a ‘prayerful nudge,’ from Our Lady, and I felt a powerful and warm feeling of serenity overtake me. As I stared at the crucifix, the words, “I THIRST” flooded my brain, but now, they were not only the 5th of the last 7 utterances of Christ on the Cross, but they were also an acronym for: “The Healing Initiative – Recovery, Spirituality, Twelve Steps.” Our Lady had given me my marching orders – “Bring this to pass”. I wasn’t sure how this would happen, but I was certain that if Our Mother wanted it, it would happen.
Over the years, Mother Mary has been at the heart of everything iTHIRST. She has guided us in our work writing the curriculum, that has now been taught to 130 people in 12 states and overseas. She has guided our work ‘sewing the seeds of spirituality in the jails and in treatment facilities. Our Mother has guided us in developing aftercare and community-building programs for those in recovery and their families. Our Lady is always at the forefront of everything we do.
There is no doubt that Our Mother has chosen the Missionary Cenacle Family in which to do this work for her suffering children. Fr. Judge was devoted to her, and she was, after all, Our Lady of the Cenacle. As we move from May, a month dedicated to Our Lady, into the season of Pentecost and onto Trinity Sunday, I cannot help but think of the words of Fr. Judge, who wrote, “I pray to our Blessed Mother, the Queen of the Resurrection, the Mother of our risen, triumphant Savior, our Mother of the Cenacle, to bless you in your preparation for Pentecost. I beg and beg of her, through the glory of her Son, to be with you in a special way over this blessed feast until Trinity Sunday. May Holy Joseph help us in our preparation.”
Fr. Judge knew to turn to Our Blessed Mother for strength and guidance. May we, in our work of iTHIRST, always remember to do likewise!