Thursday, October 12, 2006

The "Suffering Irish"

The following proposal was submitted last month to Michael O. Kenney, Director of Planned Giving for the University of Notre Dame's Badin Guild. Although I did get a great brunch and football tickets to the Purdue game out of the deal, it may be a long time before my beloved alma mater has time to seriously consider it. However, if you are interested, e-mail Mike. Who knows? A groundswell of sufferers just might speed the idea along. [Addendum: although Michael Kenney was enthusiastic about incorporating the Suffering Irish into Notre Dame, he has since left the employ of ND, so Fighting Irish Thomas has taken on the full reins of Suffering Irish.]

"Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church."
–Col. 1:24

When Mother Teresa started the Missionaries of Charity, she included an important component unique to her order. Whereas the regular sisters would lead a life of contemplation combined with active service to the poor on the streets of Calcutta and elsewhere, the Sick and Suffering Co-Workers, those religious and lay people who were too sick or disabled to serve in the field, would still be allowed to join the order. Their job would be to pray for the spiritual success of the sisters’ mission, as well as the souls of those they served. It was from Mother Teresa’s inspiration that the idea of the Suffering Irish was born.

Although there are many sectors of the Notre Dame family that pray for University needs (and certainly several that care for its hurting members), the Suffering Irish would be the first group totally dedicated to using its more unfortunate members’ most powerful weapon – that of offering up their prayer and suffering for the University’s needs.

I envision the Suffering Irish divided into different divisions so their suffering and prayer could be offered up to aid all facets of the University. The Football/Sports Division would obviously be a popular one, especially among the young sufferers. This group would offer its suffering up that the players play in a way that would make Our Lady proud. As sports are such an in-time event, I envision the members all joining simultaneously in set prayer at a certain time (i.e. a decade of the Rosary at halftime) to show their strength and unity, as well as their individual prayers as they are able.

The Student Division might be a popular choice among the older sufferers. Initially (or at least until membership reached a certain point), this division might pray for the academic/spiritual progress of the students in general. Eventually, however, a student would at the beginning of each year have the option of requesting a Suffering Irish partner, at which point the student and sufferer could correspond and more specifically pray for each other’s needs. A certain date where the sufferers and students could all meet would also be an option or this could be done on an individual basis.

“Priest/Faculty” and “Global Mission” are other division options. The Priest/Faculty Division might be the most tricky. No doubt there would be older sufferers who would want to pray for the Orthodoxy of non-traditional teachers, so this would have to be done in the most positive, least controversial manner. On the other hand, some priests and/or professors would welcome such prayers with open hearts, and this union would be much easier to accomplish.

The Global Mission Division would pray for Fr. Jenkins, his staff and the University’s trustees, as well as that Our Lady’s mission for Her University may be accomplished in the world at large. Perhaps a “president” or representative of this division could meet with the trustees, bringing their unique suggestions about Notre Dame’s goals on campus and beyond to the table too.

Obviously, the way the Suffering Irish would contribute monetarily to the University would be less straight forward than, for example, The Badin Guild. While the Football/Sports Division might charge a minimal initiation fee (which might include a certificate, mission statement, signed mini-football, etc.) and events for members would no doubt carry a certain price tag to cover costs, much of what would come in from this division would be free will at large donations. Mother Teresa never asked for money, but those donations inevitably came, and I think the funds would grow quite [super]naturally once the Suffering Irish developed.

Many lonely and sick people just want to be part of something, and if through e-mails and personal contact to other members and University officials they knew they were part of our family, they would realize their prayers and suffering were not in vain. In this spirit, I believe the Suffering Irish should be open to not only alumni, but subway alumni and fans as well. Of course, while the University would have to hire at least one [healthy] staff member to send out letters, answer e-mails and phone calls, coordinate events, etc., the Suffering Irish would always be the front and center focus of this apostolate. For if the Suffering Irish brings even a fraction of the spiritual growth to the University as the Sick and Suffering Co-Workers brought to the Missionaries of Charity, I’m sure Our Lady would be extremely proud.

1 comment :

JimAroo said...

May I join the "Praying for the Retirement of Father Richard McBrien Division"? There are already millions of members!