Catholic Free Press

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First Saturday practices revived

Posted By February 2, 2017 | 1:47 pm | Featured Article #4
Father Eric Assante celebrates Mass at St. Joan of Arc in May 2016 at which he commissioned of the executives of the new ministry.
Father Eric Assante celebrates Mass at St. Joan of Arc in May 2016 at which he commissioned of the executives of the new ministry.

By Tanya Connor
The Catholic Free Press
Experiences in Ghana, London and Worcester helped a local Catholic revive Catholic devotions.
Samuel Morrison, joined by his wife, Helina, are doing this through the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary Ministry they started. Mrs. Morrison said it includes first Saturday devotions at their church, St. Joan of Arc in Worcester; weekly conference call prayers, and daily spiritual material sent through a mobile phone application.
The Morrisons also help with marriage preparation and the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults in St. Joan of Arc’s Ghanaian community. Mr. Morrison is a eucharistic minister and a member of the liturgical committee, and is studying to be a permanent deacon.
As a child in Ghana, Mr. Morrison said, he was a member of the Children of Mary.
“Our main motive is to bring the young ones into religious life or the sacrament of holy matrimony,” he said of the group.
“Every first Saturday of the month we meet for a retreat.”
“Based on the first Saturday Fatima apparition,” interjected his wife.
The Morrisons showed a flier about this devotion: In 1917 the Blessed Mother told visionaries in Fatima, Portugal, that God wished to save souls by establishing devotion to her Immaculate Heart. … The Blessed Mother promised to assist at death those who, on the first Saturday of five consecutive months, go to confession, receive Communion, pray five decades of the rosary and meditate on the 15 mysteries of the rosary, to make reparation to her Immaculate Heart.
Mrs. Morrison said that when Mr. Morrison was chaplain of the Children of Mary at the boarding high school they attended in Ghana, he invited fellow students to attend the retreats. She went, though she’d been baptized Methodist.
He and others thought he would become a priest. But 2012 found him in Great Britain – where her family had moved – preparing to marry her!
While in London, Mr. Morrison said, he heard a voice ask: “Why don’t you come to the church and spend an hour with Me?” He went, and prayed the rosary and sang in front of the tabernacle.
While his eyes were closed, he felt rays reflected on his arms, like needles that didn’t hurt, which he interpreted as the Holy Spirit’s presence, he said. He heard, “If you give your whole heart to me, I’ll make you fishers of men.”
That, he said, led to him start the devotions at St. Joan of Arc, where he’d belonged before going to London. In 2014 he returned, with her, after she became a Catholic and they married.
Mrs. Morrison said her husband saw that some Catholics were unaware of traditional Catholic devotions or considered them outdated. “And he wanted to do something to encourage people to appreciate what we have as Catholics,” she said.
She said their pastor, Father Nelson J. Rivera, allowed them to start the first Saturday devotions at St. Joan of Arc in May 2015. Father Eric K. Asante, chaplain of the diocese’s African ministry and then in residence there, and Andrew Setsoafia, then a transitional deacon and now a priest in Ghana, helped them. Deacon Anthony Xatse, who serves at St. Paul Cathedral, also helps.
In May 2016 they formally inaugurated the ministry, Mrs. Morrison said. Father Asante commissioned the executives: Mr. Morrison, president; Charity Enimil, vice president; Regina Boateng, organizing secretary, and Stella Apau and Benedicta Ataa, chaplains.     They’re Ghanaians, but Mrs. Morrison said they hope to get members of the English-speaking and Spanish-speaking communities involved too.
The devotions are held from 9-11 a.m. the first Saturday of the month. (Feb. 4 is the next gathering.)
The devotions are open to everyone. Languages used are English and Spanish, and with translations into Twi for Ghanaians who don’t understand English.
Before starting the first Saturday devotions, Mr. Morrison was encouraging devotion. His wife said that in June 2014 he began networking, through WhatsApp, a mobile phone application.Through it he continues to send daily Scripture readings, reflections and prayers which people can read on their mobile phones.
The Morrisons said they also pray the rosary aloud with other Ghanaians on a conference call. They do this each Friday from 7 to 8 p.m. and on first Fridays add the consecration prayer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Those interested in joining should let them know. They can do this by calling him at 774-502-3382 or Charity Enimil at 508-373-8257 for details.