Thursday, November 13, 2008


Legion of Mary in Dipolog City started with only two Praesidia. Praesidium Dalangpanan sa mga Makasasala was organized on February 11,1962 and Praesidium Mystical Rose on May 1,1962 by the late Sis. Presentacion Pino. The two Praesidia were affiliated to the Senatus of Southern Philippines in Cebu City on November 4,1962 with Rev. Fr. Hector del Callar as the Spiritual Director.

When Dipolog became a Diocese in 1967 with the then Bishop Felix Sanchez Zafra,D.D. who was very supportive to the Apostolate of the Legion of Mary, more praesidia were organized. On June 8,1968 the group of Praesidia
(seven praesidia ) was Elevated to a Curia. Legionaries of Mary were very enthusiastic in thier Campaign for holiness and salvation, thus they were able to extend their Apostolate to nearby communities.

On May 16,1975 the Curia of Dipolog was Elevated into a Comitium wih three (3) Curiae - Dipolog Junior Curia, Roxas Curia, and Rizal Curia. The Legion of Mary continued to gain more members in the different municipalities of the Province of Zamboanga del Norte and in the City of Dapitan.On March 7,2004 the Curia of Dapitan was elevated to a Comitium taking care of the Curiae of St. Lawrence Martyr of Ilaya,Sta. Teresita of Polo, San Roque Kauswagan,and San Isidro Labrador Tuayan Banbanan. This was attended by Bro. Juanito " Nonoy " Lucine, Former Senatus President of Mindanao and Envoy to Papua New Guinea.

And on February 11.2006 same date when the Legion of Dipolog was Organized, the Curia of Liloy was elevated to a Comitium ,taking care of the Curiae of Immaculate Conception Barangay Comunal, Birhen sa Fatima Barangay Cabong Tampilisan, Our Lady of Mt. Carmnel Titay, Holy Family Ipil, Holy Rosary Labason, Mary Mother of the Church Poblacion Tampilisan, and Mary Mother of the Infant Jesus ,Godod.

And on April 5, 2009 the Curia of Olingan was raised to a Comitium level, with 7 Curiae attached to it thus are the Curiae of Sergio Osmeña, San Pedro, Cogon, Sinuyak,Katipunan, & Sinaman.

At present,the Dipolog Comitium is composed of Nine Curiae and ten directly attached praesidia, who are trying their best to spread and make known the goodness of the Lord through their substantial /apostolic works.

Dedicated to all Legionaries :
Bro. Benjie De Jesus Dael
email address:

Monday, November 10, 2008


Servant of God, Frank Duff

Born 7 June 1889 – Died 7 November 1980

Founded the Legion of Mary

On 7 September 1921

Frank Duff’s Message

There are a couple of basic questions that we need to ask about Frank Duff and the process for the Cause of his beatification.

Why do we want Frank Duff beatified?

What is the reason for spending so much time and energy on the Cause when there are so many other forms of apostolic work that might seem more urgent and necessary? One reason is that the prayer and work involved in the process of beatification is itself a tremendous form of evangelization. We are not simply eulogizing Frank Duff but we wish to spread the message that he taught and lived.

What he stood for is what is important.

One pivotal purpose in the beatification of a man or woman is to make their message heard loudly throughout the Church. We might get some idea why it is good to promote the beatification of men and women from the words of Frank Duff himself.

He writes:

“We must read the lives of the saints. God’s purpose in bringing about the canonization of saints was to provide a headline which would draw us on to goodness and heroism. Saints are the doctrines and practices of holiness made visible. If we frequent their company, we will soon imitate their qualities.”

Evangelization is surely making the teaching of the Gospel and the Christian way of life visible and accessible to as many people as possible.

What are the main elements in his message and spirituality?

Let me stress just one or two points in his message. The first published work of Frank Duff was the pamphlet entitled “Can We Be Saints?” His answer was a resounding Yes.

Everyone, without exception, is made and called to be a saint and the means are readily accessible to all in the everyday living of the Catholic life.

That is their very first job – to try to be a saint. If we are not really trying to be saints then to that extent we are wasting the gift of our lives. It is no good, he used to say, to ask men and women to be good, you have to ask them to be heroic. He founded the Legion of Mary as a school of sanctity.

For nearly all his life, Frank lived in close, daily contact with the men and women who lived in the hostels he founded. He cared for their material needs and tried to ease the profound pain at the heart of their lives. But above all he wanted each one of them to go to Heaven and so he provided them with access to all the means that the Church offers them. Frank looked up to each individual because he saw Christ in them.

I knew Mother Teresa reasonably well during my ten years in India and met her often at various places on my travels. Frank Duff had the same regard and love of the poor that she possessed and above all wanted them to live and die in the state of sanctifying grace.

He wanted everyone, to be authentically holy. In short, he believed with all his mind and heart in what the Second Vatican Council referred to as the universal call to holiness.

For Frank the universal call to holiness necessarily includes the universal call to evangelization or mission. There is endless joy in being an instrument, with God’s grace, in bringing even one soul to Heaven. Frank sought to bring all souls to Heaven or at least as many as possible. I think it could be argued that his desire for the salvation of souls was the deepest thrust in his spirituality.

The salvation of souls dominates the life of every saint. Frank found it difficult to imagine how you could save your own soul without seeking to save the souls of others.

The desire to save souls defines also the reason why he founded the Legion of Mary. He adapted the prayer attributed to St. Francis Xavier for the Conversion of the Whole World as follows:

“O Lord all hearts are in Your hands. You can bend as it pleases You the most obdurate and soften the most hardened. Do that honor this day to the blood, merits, wounds, names and inflamed hearts of Your beloved Son and His most Holy Mother by granting the conversion of the whole world. Nothing less, my God, nothing less, because of Mary, their Mother; because of your might and Your mercy.”

Frank Duff was great in the small things, and heroic in doing the commonplace, and his purpose in al things great and small was his immense desire to love God and to be an instrument with and through Mary and the Holy Spirit in the conversion of sinners and the salvation of souls.

Fr. Bede McGregor O.P.

His message is radically rooted in the Gospel and the Tradition of the Church. This is why it is so important.

Frank’s parents

Early Years

Francis Michael Duff was born on 7 June 1889. He was the eldest of seven, two of whom died as children.

He attended both Belvedere and Blackrock Colleges and was a gifted student. However, due to his father’s premature illness, money was in short supply and a university education was no longer an option.

Frank joined the Civil Service taking first place in the entrance examination. He was assigned to the Department of Finance, devised a system of calculus which was subsequently adopted by the Treasury in London. He was a keen cyclist, played tennis and enjoyed a good social life.

He was invited by a colleague to join the St. Vincent de Paul Society and in October 1913 joined at the age of 24.

He was affected by the chasm he saw between the society he moved in and the poverty, hunger and squalor he witnessed.

He attended an enclosed retreat and was impressed by what he heard. Accustomed to reading copiously he started reading more spiritual and theological books about God, and the saints.

Besides the physical needs of the people he encountered, Frank saw that many neglected the practice of the faith and needed encouragement. In 1914, in parallel to this work with the St Vincent de Paul Society, Frank commenced his own personal apostolate visiting tenement houses where he received a kindly welcome.

Proselytism was rife in Dublin at the time. SVP member, Joe Gabbett and some women set up an alternative food center for those in need. Frank involved himself in this work.

Frank joined the Pioneer Total Abstinence Association of the Sacred Heart. In 1915 he joined the Third Order of the Carmelites and made the first of 49 pilgrimages to St Patrick’s Island Lough Derg.

In 1916 he wrote a booklet “Can We Be Saints”, his thesis being “in the heart of every right thinking Catholic, God has implanted the desire to become a saint.” That same year the Easter Rising took place and a turbulent period of history followed by the War of Independence in Ireland from 1917 to 1921.

In 1917 he found a second-hand copy of “True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary” by St Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort, the contents of which he found difficult to come to terms with at first. In 1919 he went to Mount Melleray Cistercian Abbey and read a book entitled “The Knowledge of Mary” by Fr. de Consilio, that opened up a new world for him. It gave him a theological knowledge of Our Lady which was assumed in St Louis de Montfort’s book.

Frank Duff served in several Government departments until 1932 when he retired from the Civil Service to give his complete attention to the Legion of Mary, which, after the International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin, was expanding worldwide.

First Works of the Legion

The first work of the Legion of Mary was the visitation of the South Union Hospital (now incorporated as part of St James’s Hospital), Dublin, to a section of the Hospital frequented by few, if any visitors to patients suffering from cancer.

There was at the time in Dublin an area of ill repute known worldwide as Monto, a no-go area for law and order. In large run-down tenement houses resided many girls who plied the trade of prostitution. Legionaries decided to make a visit to this area and despite initial fears were made welcome by those living there. Twenty-three of the thirty-nine girls agreed to give up that way of life after attending a weekend retreat in the convent of the Sisters if Charity in Baldoyle.

Thanks to the good offices of the then Minister for Local Government, W.T. Cosgrave, a premises was procured in Harcourt Street Dublin, into which the girls moved at the end if the retreat which became known then as Sancta Maria Hostel.

This was followed in 1927 by the Morning Star Hostel for homeless men and by Regina Coeli Hostel in 1928 for mothers and their children and homeless women.

Frank Duff at the Second Vatican Council

In 1965 Frank Duff was invited to the Second Vatican Council and when his presence was announced, the whole assembly of 2500 Bishops broke into spontaneous applause.

Frank Duff had the opportunity to renew several contacts and establish new ones on the Legion’s behalf. While he was in Rome he gave 32 formal talks to different groups of bishops. He also gave a number of interviews to newspaper reporters, wrote several articles and 200 letters.

His greatest experience was his private audience with the Holy Father Pope Paul VI.

His Holiness thanked him for his services to the Church and expressed his appreciation for all that the Legion of Mary had done. Frank Duff assured the Holy Father that the primary ambition of the Legion was to keep in closest union with the Church.

The Council, Frank Duff said, had risen to new heights in regard to Mary in the Church. Referring to the Constitution on the Church “Lumen Gentium” he said “Mary is inseparable from the Catholic Church. You cannot take her out and yet leave the Church intact. It would cease to be the Catholic Church. Her position is primary.” Then he added “In another of its tremendous strokes the Council insists that all apostleship is but an extension of the motherhood of Mary; it is part of her giving of Christ to the world. It follows that nobody can take part in apostleship or persevere in it except with her.”

Cyclist and Photographer

Frank, like most Irish men of his time, used a bicycle to get around. But he also used it to test his own endurance. For instance on Sunday, 31 May 1914, he cycled 155 miles from 8:00 in the morning to 11:20 in the evening. He was then on the eve of his 26th birthday. After his mother’s death in 1951, he almost died himself and took to the road on his bicycle to force air into his lungs. This led him to take up cycling as his preferred holiday option with two major expeditions each year and several minor ones. He came to love the Irish countryside and especially its coastal beauty spots and he would record all worthwhile vistas on his Leica cameras to be revisited on the screen later with audiences small and large. In November 1980, at the age of 90, he planned a cycling weekend which was to take place along the north Dublin coast. His bicycle was ready in the hall downstairs and his packed bag was on the carrier ready for the start next morning. Sadly it was not to be as on the eve of his planned departure, he died.

I met Frank Duff just in the last ten years of his life.

What struck me about him was the interest and care he took with each individual he met. He was a man of wisdom, he could be forthright in manner, he was kind, practical and had a wonderful sense of humor. He was a good listener and a man of real humility. Those qualities were interspersed with a deep prayer and sacramental life.

He was man who shunned publicity. He preferred to remain in the background. An example that comes to mind in at the open-air Mass marking the Golden Jubilee of the setting up of the Legion, he was to be found anonymously among the large congregation present.

One commentator described Frank Duff as a “philosopher, theologian, biblical scholar, possessor of vast knowledge on medicine, science and mathematics and a great communicator – able to express complex ideas in simple terms.” He was to my mind all of those things,

In my opinion, one of the great legacies that Frank Duff left was a realization of the obligations and responsibilities given to each person at Baptism, calling all to evangelization. Through the Legion of Mary he left a workable means of seeing Christ in all, an organization with rules which works on a democratic basis but fully in accordance with the Church, in union with Our Blessed Lady. It works quietly in the 170 or so countries in which it is established to date.

Sile Ni Chochlain, Concilium Legionis Mariae

An avid reader

Frank Duff was a regular reader of the National Geographic and Time magazines. His reading of these magazines and other periodicals kept him well informed about current affairs.

He showed particular interest in reading about the dedication of those who in the interests of science and learning went on assignments to foreign and remote areas to study various aspects of life. The sacrifices and the hardships they endured appealed to his interest in adventure.

He liked to use their example of heroism as an ideal for legionaries who might think of devoting part of their lives to working in some far-flung area of the world in the interest of evangelization. He expressed it as follows in the Legion of Mary Handbook “That Christian commission drastically drives us out to people everywhere ... to those remote … to the forgotten sort … to the dwellers in caves and caravans … to the avoided places … to the icy wastes, to the sun baked desert, to the undiscovered tribe, out into the absolute unknown, to find if there is someone living there, right to the ends of the earth where the rainbow rests!”

This thinking would have influenced his interest in sending out the early Envoys to set up the Legion in lands outside Ireland.

Prayer for the Beatification of the Servant of God Frank Duff

God our Father,

You inspired your servant Frank Duff with a profound insight into the mystery of Your Church, the Body of Christ, and of the place of Mary the Mother of Jesus in this mystery.

In his immense desire to share this insight with others and in filial dependence on Mary he formed her Legion to be a sign of her maternal love for the world and a means of enlisting all her children in the Church's evangelizing work.

We thank you Father for the graces conferred on him and for the benefits accruing to the Church from his courageous and shining faith.

With confidence we beg You that through his intercession you grant the petition we lay before You. ...............

We ask too that if it be in accordance with Your will, the holiness of his life may be acknowledged by the Church for the glory of your Name, through Christ Our Lord, Amen.

Favors attributed to the intercession of Frank Duff should be reported to:

Legion of Mary,

De Montfort House

Morning Star Avenue

Brunswick Street,

Dublin 7, Ireland


Venerable Edel Quinn

On December 15, 1994, Pope John Paul II declared Edel Quinn “Venerable”

“It is certain that the Servant of God, Edel Mary Quinn, a secular virgin of the Legion of Mary practiced to a heroic degree the Theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity towards God and her neighbor and likewise the cardinal virtues of Prudence, Justice, Temperance and Fortitude.

Edel Quinn was born on the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, September 14, 1907 at Greenane in the parish of Castlemagner near Kanturk, County Cork. Father Greene P.P. Castlemagner baptized Edel on the 18th. Her father, a bank employee, was transferred often. This meant many moves for Edel, her three sisters, and brother; the family finally settled in Monkstown, County Dublin in 1924.

Like the rest of her family, Edel adored sports. An avid rugby supporter, she played tennis and cricket. She loved to cycle, especially at high speeds – and to dance; many who knew her, spoke of her exuberant nature and cheerful outlook.

Edel at 4 years old Edel at boarding school, England

On completing her education in Ireland, she went to boarding school in England for a brief spell. On her return she undertook a commercial course. At age twenty Edel was working as a secretary proving to be most efficient and conscientious. At this time the spiritual side of her life was becoming more dominant. She joined the Legion of Mary in Dublin.

Edel’s destiny was to be linked to the Legion perhaps more than she knew. In 1932 when about to join the poor Clare Convent in Belfast, a contemplative order, it was discovered she had advanced tuberculosis of the lungs. This would eventually end her life. An eighteen-month stay in a sanatorium followed. Towards the end of 1933 she went back to her office job and her beloved Legion. She spent time visiting the sick and the needy.

In 1936, with her health still failing, Edel responded to a call to go as envoy to Africa. Understandably the central council of the Legion was reluctant to agree. “How could this slight, waif-like creature possibly have the stamina required for extensive travel throughout Central Africa?” A determined Edel remarked that she was going in with her eyes open and didn’t want to “go on a picnic”.

In November 1936, she arrived in Mombasa, Kenya. Within 14 days she had set up the first praesidium, Legion group, called “The Immaculate Conception”. Like everything else she had tackled previously, Edel threw herself into fulfilling her role, which was to bring Catholics of all ethnic backgrounds to work together through Our Lady.

Within five months, Edel had founded the first Curia, (a governing council of the Legion for guiding praesidia).

Sheer necessity brought about the purchase of a six year old Ford V8

coupe. When her newly acquired driver proved unreliable, in true Edel fashion she learned to drive. Harrowing journeys, in her “Rolls Royce” as she called it, were all part of the job – “She was utterly undaunted” Frank Duff, the Legion’s founder once said of her, “Just laughed her way through obstacles that would have beaten almost anyone else.”

In the period 1937 – 1940 she introduced the Legion to Uganda, Tanganyika (Tanzania), Nyasaland (Malawi) and Mauritius in the Indian Ocean.

She organized the translations and printing of prayers in several different languages and dialects. During her many hospital spells she continued her work through correspondence.

By 1943, the tuberculosis was well advanced and even Edel had to admit she was slowing down considerably. Yet she still continued her travels.

By November 1943, her hard labor had paid off. Hundreds of Legion groups were thriving on African soil thanks to this single-minded Irish woman.

The disease, fought for so long, finally defeated Edel on May 12, 1944. Receiving the last rites at the Convent of the Sisters of the Precious Blood in Nairobi, she spoke her last words: “What is happening to me? Is Jesus coming?”

She was 36 years old.

In 1963 the process of her canonization was opened in Nairobi and Dublin. On December 15, 1994 Pope John Paul II solemnly proclaimed her heroic sanctity, declaring her “Venerable”.

President of Ireland Mary McAleese visiting Edel’s grave.

Edel Quinn - Role Model

Edel was an idealist, a quality rare enough in people. We find lots of ambition and materialism, but idealism not so much. Yet deep in every human heart is the desire to emulate those persons with lofty ideals. There is a quotation by John Oxenham (English novelist and Religious Poet) in the Handbook of the Legion of Mary which reads:

“To every man there openeth

A way, and ways and a way.

And the High Soul climbs the High Way

And the Low Soul gropes the Low,

And, in between, in the misty flats,

The rest drift to and fro.

And to every man there openeth

A High Way and a Low,

And every man decideth

The Way his soul shall go.”

She chose the “High Way” and stated “an idealist who does not put his ideal into practice is not worth much.” Edel’s ideals were generated by her strong, unclouded Catholic Faith and her totally unselfish nature. Edel’s ultimate goal was to attain to an eternal loving relationship with God. Her life plan was to get to know Him, the Object of her Desire, to reciprocate His love for her.

Edel was called by God to lead a contemplative life in the midst of intense activity as a family member, a working girl, an active member of the Legion of Mary, as a patient in a sanatorium and finally as an envoy of the Legion of Mary on Africa. Her life plan remained constant. The Church in declaring her Venerable has confirmed that she achieved the ultimate goal.

How inspirational is Edel Quinn for people today? Her mother stated that Edel never knew fear. She was a very strong character with great wisdom and a vibrant sparkling personality. She was courageous, unselfish, compassionate, sensitive, a capable leader and organizer. She was not knocked off course by change of plans or ill health

What guidelines has she got to offer to young people, so many of whom become discouraged and depressed with the prevailing attitude that materialistic success is the only thing worth having. Seeking to escape the pressures they resort to abuse of alcohol, drugs, sex and tragically some end it all by suicide. Let them “tune in” to the source of Edel’s strength and joy. Her strength came from the life of grace, nourished daily. Some spiritual notes found in her possessions give us an insight into this.

“We must prove our love by fidelity to prayer.”

“Meditation each morning for one hour if I have the strength for it.”

“I could never refuse Our Blessed Lady anything I thought she wanted.”

“I could assist at Mass all day long.”

“Without the Eucharist what a desolation life would be.”

"Mary loves Jesus in me, caresses and compassionates Him for all His wounds. But, above all, she speaks her gratitude for the Eucharist, and gives thanks to the Eternal Father for that Gift. Without the Eucharist, what a desolation life would be! "

"We can find Him, at every free moment, on the Altar. Be with Him there. Better than all books! "

"Thank the Trinity over and over again for this Gift."

"Rest in His presence, and my Guardian Angel will adore Him for me. Silence."

"At Mass I united myself to the victim Christ, through Mary’s hands, for the glory of the Trinity, in thanksgiving for everything, and on behalf of souls. At Mass always to have special intention of offering and hearing it on behalf of those who cannot hear it themselves by reason of sickness, distance, work or war. Place this intention in Mary’s hands."

Favors received through the intercession of Venerable Edel Quinn

Out of many favors received and recorded in the International Centre of the Legion of Mary, these are but a few…

Cyst suddenly disappears

I wish to report a favor I received through the Ven. Edel Quinn. A large cyst on my back was very badly infected. My doctor said he would not touch it and told me I would have to go to hospital. I had to wait a week before admission. I prayed to Edel Quinn that week so very hard. One morning when I woke up the cyst was gone. I thank Edel for all her help. (N. Ireland).

Throat Cancer disappears

I wish to inform you of a very interesting fact about Edel Quinn. A friend suffered from a cancer of the throat that was very advanced. In her first visit to the doctor, he said to her: “Madam you will never talk again as long as you live”. On hearing this, a number of us prayed with great faith to Edel Quinn. Still unable to eat after three weeks, she went to receive Holy Communion saying to herself: “Jesus Christ will certainly open the way for food.” Slowly the cancer began to diminish. Today she is perfectly well. She again visited her physician who with great surprise said: “Madam we see no trace of your disease, you are perfectly cured.” Glory to God and to Edel Quinn! (Canada).

Double cure of Arthritis

Last October I was very worried about the use of my right hand which was badly afflicted with arthritis which I also have in my spine. I gave up going to doctors and using medication, as this was useless. At that time I was given a leaflet with the prayer for the Cause of Ven. Edel Quinn, and I stared praying for a cure, if it was God’s will. Now, not only is my hand back to normal, but I notice that the arthritis, in general does not worry me. To me this is nothing short of a miracle and I will continue to pray for her Cause. (Ireland).

Prayer for the Beatification of Venerable Edel Quinn

Eternal Father, I thank you for the grace you gave to your servant, Edel Quinn, of striving to live always in the joy of your presence, for the radiant charity infused into her heart by your Holy Spirit and for the strength she drew from the Bread of Life to labor until death for the glory of Your name in loving dependence on Mary, Mother of the Church.

Confident, O Merciful Father, that her life was pleasing to you, I beg you to grant me, through her intercession, the special favor I now implore (here pause for silent thought of intention) and to make known by miracles the glory she enjoys in Heaven, so that she may be glorified also by your Church on earth, through Christ Our Lord, Amen

We place our petition in the hands of Mary to whom Edel turned in every need.

Hail Mary....

with ecclesiastical approval

When favors are received or petitions granted please ensure they are reported in writing to:

The International Centre Legion of Mary

De Montfort House,

Morning Star Avenue

Brunswick Street

Dublin 7, Ireland

Phone: (353-1) 872-3153, (353-1) 872-5093

Fax: (353-1) 872-6386

Ever on the march for the conquest of souls

His Grace Archbishop Ndingi Mwana’a Nzeki of Nairobi (On right of photo) wishes to see Venerable Edel’s prayer in every language and a greater effort made by all to promote her Cause. We all have a role to play in making her way of life known. A heroic life of prayer combined with action!

In May 1944 Edel Quinn was laid to rest in the Missionaries’ Cemetery, Nairobi, Kenya. Sixty years later, Kenya will lead the world commemorating her 60th Anniversary, in the grounds of St. Austin’s Church, Nairobi.

What has happened in the last sixty years?

The Legion of Mary councils Edel helped establish have grown and now mobilize millions into service of the Church. These councils are a fitting memorial to her.

Suffering ill health and encountering many obstacles, all joyfully borne, the cross was to play a major role in Edel’s short life.

“She was so full of mirth and good humor that she was like a sunbeam, shining on everyone who encountered her. She kept the thorns of life for herself; the flower and the fragrance she gave to others. “(Cardinal Leon Suenens)

She accepted God’s will and gave her life to His service in Africa.

What about the Future?

Our hope and prayer is that one day soon Venerable Edel will be canonized. One miracle attributed to her intercession is still required for her Beatification.

Let us take up the challenge of making Edel known the world over and in doing so help continue Edel’s march for the conquest of souls for Christ through Mary.

Reflections on her character outlined by Frank Duff in a booklet entitled “Edel Quinn”

The Mystery of Edel

Frank speaking in Kanturk

Her sensitivity

She had a highly developed sensitive quality and her nature must have thrilled to every one of the natural signals. She loved her family intensely, especially her mother, but she never intended to back to them again. She loved all her set of friends tremendously, but she walked away from them. I think everybody was in tears when her ship, the “Llangibby Castle”, moved out from Tilbury Docks, except the young lady herself. What is the explanation of the mystery? The best explanation I am able to give is this one: that to an extent which is very seldom met with, spiritual motives were in possession of the centre of her being. I might put it more simply and say that The Lord and His Mother were living there in a way that they are not in most of us.

Her natural qualities

In her outward behavior Edel was the most natural of people. She would eat what was put before her, within certain limits. The things which could be acts of self-denial were so guarded from public attention that only a close observer would be led to comment on them. In which case she would insist it was a matter of liking and not of deprivation.

She did not talk much. In a group it was not Edel’s voice which was heard. When this is pointed out to those who knew her well, they are at first incredulous, so much did she make her presence felt in any company. She was not conspicuously silent. She seemed to play her part in conversation while at the same time it was others who were doing the major part of the talking. And very definitely there was an atmosphere of grace and peace about her which softened people. The note of any group where she was would be that of good humor and harmony.

Her Unselfishness

I had the pleasure of listening in to the questioning of her family by Cardinal Leon Suenens. It was a stirring experience. At an early point he asked what was her dominant characteristic as a young child. Without taking even a moment to reflect, her mother answered, “Her unselfishness”. And at once the others chimed in with their comment: “Yes, Edel was completely unselfish”. Then the question came “At what age did that develop in her?” Her mother said: “It was always in her from the time she was a baby!” Which always produced from us the objection: “But that could not be. Babies are at best selfish little articles and they have to learn the better things from the grown up people!” “No, No, No!” almost indignantly: they had never seen a sign of selfishness in her. And that incredible assertion was adhered to. The Carmelites and other Orders in Africa speak of her comings to them as being “angels’ visits”, leaving an overwhelming impression.

This means that eminently holy people regarded it as a spiritual favor to come in contact with her – an astounding evaluation to make of anyone! Everybody who had such a visit from her talks about it.

Her charm

Her charm of manner was supreme, but it went far deeper than the surface. There was nothing of the artificial in her. She attracted people very strongly. In trying to analyze this fact, one is thrown back on the suggestion which Chesterton makes about St. Francis of Assisi: that the secret of the Saint’s power lay in the conviction which people gained that he really was interested in each one of them. I would say that anyone who spoke to Edel Quinn ended up with that same idea. As a consequence they loved her and wanted to do what she asked of them.



Alfie Lambe



Alfie’s successor in the Argentine January 21st is the anniversary of the death of Alphonsus Lambe. Each year on that date all over South America there are large celebrations with thousands of legionaries gathering to honor him, to pray to him and to ask for his intercession. They attend Mass, say the Legion Prayers and go out on to the streets to speak to people. This is repeated several times throughout the day, putting into practice what Alfie taught them.

Alfie was sent by the Concilium in 1953 to develop the Legion of Mary throughout the South American countries. But he didn’t limit himself to setting up groups of the Legion. He did much more because of his burning zeal for souls. He found that a majority of the people were baptized but knew little about their Faith. Many had to be reintroduced to the Christian way of life.

One of the difficulties he encountered were the sects, particularly those sent to South America with the aim of inducing the people to turn their backs on the Catholic Church. By the time Alfie arrived, he saw there was a major job to be done in winning the people back to the Church. He taught legionaries of all walks of life and of all ages that everyone must be invited to join the Legion of Mary.

An example of this was Alfie’s meeting with a young railroad employee, Miguel Mancini. Alfie asked him if he would like to work for Our Blessed Lady. The reply Miguel gave him was that he was baptized but didn’t go to Mass that often. Alfie persisted saying that he hadn’t asked him if he was practicing and re-issued the invitation to work for Our Blessed Lady. Miguel accepted. A month later he became President of his praesidium, later President of the Curia and in due course he was elected President of the Comitium. On completion of his term of office he entered the seminary and is now Rector of one of the largest seminaries in South America.

Alfie taught legionaries how to make everyone an apostle for the Catholic Church. He brought legionaries with him wherever he went and showed them how to engage in apostolic work and how to extend the Legion. He was an example of a legionary always on duty.

Occasionally legionaries would see Alfie in ‘off-duty’ mode, having a cup of coffee in an open air cafe. Street children would approach offering to shine his shoes or sell him a paper. “Come back in 5 minutes” he would say and then he would offer them Legion membership. These young teenagers went on to do apostolic work in the toughest and roughest areas of their cities.

At the time, many of the priests who arrived from Europe were suffering from the ravages of World War II. Despite the after-effects of trauma, illness and incapacity they were invited to become Spiritual Directors and many accepted the invitation. Some doubted that the Legion of Mary could be a vehicle to transform parishes and bring people back to the Faith. Some were opposed to having the Legion established within their boundaries. However, in time those who doubted couldn’t help but be influenced by good reports from neighboring areas where the Legion flourished.

Those who worked with Alfie spoke of the example he gave not only in his spiritual Life but in everything he did. They agreed they never saw him sad or depressed, never saw him lose patience, become flustered or complain. He always had a smile. And he bore those qualities up to his death.

Alfie stayed wherever he was offered accommodation, and more often than not he stayed in student hostels. In those years in South America, students were being influenced by Marxist and Communist doctrines. Idealistic young men, some would abandon their Faith to take up those ideologies. While relaxing in the evenings, Alfie would join in the conversation and speak to them about Catholicism. On one occasion Alfie was threatened by a young man wielding a knife. On another occasion he received a phone call in the early hours threatening death if he went to the University to establish the Legion there. This didn’t stop Alfie.

On yet another occasion while visiting a priest who had just agreed to establish the Legion in his Parish, the priest was called to visit a dying man. Alfie asked to accompany him to the hospital. After a brief visit to his bedside the priest returned saying the man was a Jew. Alfie asked permission to speak with him and some short while later asked the priest to return as the man had a desire to be baptized.

Climate changes from extremely cold to extremely hot are part of life in the countries of South America. Some might have been tempted to train people and allow them to undertake the work. Not so with Alfie. He accompanied the legionaries and showed them how to carry out the work. This is evidenced by work he undertook with a group of seminarians. During their holidays, Alfie offered to teach them the Legion of Mary system and how to undertake the work. A group of 14 of them accompanied Alfie on a 24 hour train journey. He set up the miniature Legion altar he brought with him and they held their first Legion meeting in the carriage. He then assigned them in pairs to go through the carriages and speak to the passengers about the Mass and what devotion to Our Lady means to a Catholic. After two hours they reported back and discussed what they learned. During that journey four Legion meetings and work assignments took place.

Alfie was as much at home the wealthy person as he was with the poor. The wealthy kept to themselves leading a comfortable life style. Alfie took the view that they too had souls to be won for the Church. Those who joined the Legion were assigned to the poor areas donning t-shirts and jeans to do their work. Alfie praised their work but set them the further challenge of visiting the red light area. Not believing such existed in their city, Alfie proved them wrong by taking a taxi and being brought in sequence to ten establishments of ill-repute. The legionaries undertook the challenge and the work in the red light area continues to this day.

Alfie also had a lighter side to his personality. He loved to tell a joke or a funny story often told against himself. He even told of an encounter he had with terrorists who seized him for a couple of hours. When allowed to make a phone call to prove who he was, Alfie phoned the Irish Ambassador who came to vouch for him. Both he and the Ambassador laughed long and hard when re-telling the story.

Alfie did many things during his short life, some we know about, others we do not. In Argentina he started the first praesidium for Orthodox members. He learned the Russian language in the hope of visiting that country. His wish wasn’t granted as he died a short while later. He is buried in the vault of the Christian Brothers in Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires. A simple inscription marks his resting place. But the real testimony to his memory lies in his legacy of many hundreds of thousands of legionaries working throughout South America through their membership of the Legion of Mary, for the Church.

Alfie Lambe joined the Legion of Mary in Ireland when almost eighteen years old. Three years later he was one of the youngest of his time to be assigned as a missionary. After six years he was popularly acclaimed by those who knew him closely as a man of holiness, some comparing him to the Little Flower. Bishops and priests consider him to be Argentinean and he is grouped with their other Candidates for Canonization.

People all over South America pray to Alfie Lambe and many see him as a Patron for Youth. Their love for him is seen each year in January when thousands of people gather to celebrate the life of an ordinary Catholic lad who had a zeal for souls and put that into practice.


Michael Ekeng

Michael Eking was a foundation member of the Legion of Mary and the President of the first Praesidium in the entire African continent. This praesidium was started by the Most Rev. Dr. Moynagh, then bishop of Calabar of St. Patrick’s Missionary Society, Kiltegan, Co. Wicklow when he was in charge of the Ifuho Mission, Ikot Ekpene, Nigeria. The date was September 7th, 1933 – the 12th anniversary of the Legion’s birth in Dublin. .

Michael Ekeng was Bishop Moynagh's right hand man in the task of extending and perfecting the Legion of Mary in the Calabar diocese. He was described as "a man of God" or more accurately, as a "free man of God", for Michael had tasted the bitter experience of slavery, had bought his freedom by his own industry, and had then found his way into the Catholic Church via Protestantism in which he had been instructed by his former “master”.

Here is a pen-picture of the outstanding zeal of this remarkable African Legionary by one who watched him closely at work, Most Rev. Dr. T. McGettrick, Bishop of Ogoja, Nigeria, writing after Michael’s death in 1958.

“Michael Ekeng's capacity for work was amazing. I have known him to start from Calabar at 1 A.M., travel to Oran 18 miles by canoe, go on from there to a Legion meeting 55 miles away, and after the meeting cycle on 12 miles to the nearest mission, fasting all the time, to receive Holy Communion. He was a fine example of what Bishop Moynagh called "the wonderful effects of the Legion on the legionaries themselves.

Although nothing official has been acknowledged to date, there was talk in Africa of the introduction of Michael's cause for sainthood as well.

During the Holy Year of 1950 Bishop Moynagh sent Michael on a pilgrimage to Rome, and thence to Ireland. Mr. Ekeng addressed the Concilium of the Legion of Mary, attended many Legion functions and took part in a pilgrimage to Lough Derg.

Michael Ekeng never ceased to express gratitude for what the Irish missionaries and the Legion had done for Africa. This appreciation he demonstrated unceasingly by his notable, self-sacrificing work both for the Irish missionaries and the Legion in Calabar. He saw the Legion on Calabar grow to 18 councils and close on to 150 branches.

May this truly apostolic soul, to whom Irish missionaries and the Legion of Mary are indebted for so much, rest in peace and reap the reward of a remarkably fruitful life in the service of his fellow Africans..


Mary Duffy

Mary Duffy joined the Legion in 1925 when there were only four Praesidia in existence. She used to say she “came into the Legion on the crest of an enormous wave of grace”. She was one of a small team who spent weekends and holidays traveling around Ireland and later into Wales setting up praesidia.

Mary had a deep, deep devotion to the Holy Spirit and Our Lady which obviously helped her over come the shock when Mr. Duff asked her to consider going as Legion Envoy to North America. She arrived in New York in 1934 and spent 12 years traveling throughout United States and Canada visiting priests, establishing praesidia and organizing the government of the Legion in that vast territory

In 1946 Mary returned to Dublin and joined a praesidium in Regina Coeli hostel where she worked among the mothers and children for the remainder of her life. Mary was most meticulous about attending the Concilium meeting. She died on 19 August 1997 and was buried on the Feast of the Queenship of Mary. A great chapter of Legion history has been closed. May Mary Duffy rest in peace.


Joaquina Lucas

Joaquina joined the Legion of Mary in 1940. She was one of the foundation members of the first praesidium set up in the Hospicio de San Jose, Manila; an orphanage, hospital and home for the aged all combined, run by the Sisters of Charity. Their Spiritual Director was Fr, Manuel Gracia, C.M., the founder of the Legion in the Philippines. All of that first group were university students, among them her friend and later fellow-envoy, Pacita Santos, who was recruited by Joaquina. During the occupation, the Legion grew and expanded. At the end of the war there were 12 curiae in the Manila area.

In 1946, Joaquina was appointed the first Envoy of the Legion of Mary to Latin America, beginning her work in Mexico and then traveling down to South America. She was bi-lingual. Speaking English and Spanish with equal fluency, she covered Colombia, Peru, Argentina and Brazil where she learned to speak Portuguese fluently. In 1953 when Bros. Grace and Lambe arrived in South America as Envoys she met them at Bogotá airport in Colombia and for some months acted as their interpreter and helped them perfect their Spanish until each of the began work in his own assigned territory.

When she had completed her Envoyship in South America, Joaquina came to Dublin and after some months at Legio Headquarters she was appointed Envoy to Portugal. She completed her assignment in Portugal in 1958 and returned home. In 1963 she was again appointed Envoy, this time in Japan, Indonesia and Korea where she remained until 1965. She was one of the longest serving Envoys of the Concilium.

Since her return home to Manila she had taken an active part in the Legion there being especially concerned in many of the Senatus activities.

No doubt Our Lady had a great welcome for her stalwart Legionary and proficient Envoy.


Thursday, November 6, 2008


The Legion of Mary
in the
Church of Today


Archdiocesan Director of the Philadelphia Senatus,
Legion of Mary
Pastor Observer at the Second Vatican Council

Years ago, before the Second Vatican Council, critics of the Legion of Mary used to accuse it of being too modern, too revolutionary in its system of training lay men and women to perform apostolic works with and for the parish priest. The Legion of Mary was ahead of its time, and these critics were suspicious of lay apostles intruding into the pastoral field of the care of souls, a field reserved in most part up to this time to the priests.

Now strangely enough, after the Second Vatican Council, the critics (many of them the same as those described above) tell us that the Legion of Mary is not modern enough; that it is now obsolete; and that it must be updated to agree with the spirit of the Second Vatican Council.

These modern critics base their criticism of the Legion on their knowledge that the Legion of Mary instills into its members a deep devotion to Mary and a strong urge to bring the unchurched into the Catholic Church, and on the false assumptions that the Second Vatican Council wished to deemphasize devotion to Mary, and that the ecumenical movement is to replace the convert apostolate.


It is evident to those who know anything about the Second Vatican Council that the Legion of Mary is not obsolete by reason of the Council's decisions. In fact, many bishops who attended the Second Vatican Council considered the Legion of Mary to be the ideal form of lay participation in the mission of the Church in this modern world. They considered it so relevant to our age that some of them, e.g., Bishop John McEleney of Jamaica, started the Legion of Mary in their dioceses after their return from the last session of the Second Vatican Council. This would have been a very silly thing to do if they had considered the Legion of Mary obsolete.

His Eminence, Cardinal Krol, who, as an undersecretary of the Second Vatican Council, knew well the mind of the Council Fathers, has found the Legion of Mary "to be truly apostolic and completely in accord with the decrees and the spirit of the Second Vatican Council."

His Eminence, Cardinal Suenens, stated at Rome, while the Council was in session, that the Legion of Mary actually anticipated the Second Vatican Council in many ways. Indeed it has been revealed that the Legion Handbook was consulted at the commission level for the formulation of the Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity. In that Decree Legionaries can find ideas and sometimes the very words repeated from the Handbook.

On January 6, 1965, Pope Paul VI addressed to Frank Duff, founder of the Legion of Mary, a letter of praise and encouragement to all the Legionaries of Mary. Singled out in this letter for special praise was "the spirit of the Legion of Mary, (which) while property drawing fruitful nourishment from the strong interior life of its members, from their discipline, their dedication to the salvation of their neighbour, their unflinching loyalty to the Church, nevertheless is distinguished and characterized by an adamant confidence in the action of the Blessed Virgin." To Pope Paul VI the Legion of Mary was relevant to those Conciliar days.

Having received demands from some Spiritual Directors that the Legion be up-dated and brought into line with the documents of Vatican 11, Frank Duff, himself a lay observer at the Second Vatican Council, began a very careful study of the Council documents to discover how and if the Legion system should be changed. At the same time he sent to Pope Paul VI a copy of the new English Handbook together with a memorandum setting out in detail the radical changes which were being pressed for by certain Spiritual Directors and others both within and outside the Legion. He asked the Holy Father for guidance and recommendations in this matter.

Through his Secretary of State, Pope Paul VI replied to this request on June 2, 1966. In this reply it is stated: "With regard to the Constitution of the Legion of Mary, the Sovereign Pontiff would have me assure you that there is no intention to change these, at least for the foreseeable future. Trusting that this information will prove useful and of consolation to you and your colleagues..."

This does console and assure us Legionaries that the Legion of Mary, as it is, is precisely what Pope Paul VI wanted it to be; it is precisely what the Second Vatican Council wanted a lay apostolate organization to be.


But demands for up-dating, for radical changes, for a new look in the Legion continue to be made, especially by priests, many of them Legion Spiritual Directors.

Some suggest changes only for the sake of change, which is the in-thing to do these days; others suggest changes out of a real love for the Legion---they believe that if their suggestions are followed, more people, especially the young, will be attracted into the Legion ranks.

In studying these suggested changes it becomes quite clear that some of the changes are minor, while others are so radical that they would affect the whole Legion structure and, if followed, would create a new organization which would not be the Legion of Mary; it would not be the Legion of Mary as envisioned by its founder and approved by popes and bishops in every part of the world.


Since the Legion of Mary is an active living organization it is understandable that minor changes do and are taking place. In recent times new apostolic works have been attempted and have been incorporated into the Legion system and Handbook, e.g., the Patrician meeting, the Peregrinatio Pro Christo, the Incolae Mariae, Exploratio Dominicalis, and the True Devotion to the Nation. The latest edition of the Handbook reflects most of these innovations, as it does the changes that took place in the invocations in Legion prayers, in the nature of auxiliary membership, and in the abandoning of the Laureate Degree of Legion membership.

But none of these innovations have changed the basic Legion system, nor have they changed the Legion's basic principles and spirituality as outlined in the Handbook.

So changes do and can take place in the Legion. Critics of the Legion of Mary can be assured that their suggestions of change, if presented seriously through proper channels, will be carefully studied at Legion Headquarters in Dublin. If the suggestions are considered worthwhile they will be sent out in a democratic way to all Legion councils throughout the world for their studied opinion.


What are some of the changes suggested by critics for the updating of the Legion of Mary?

American edition of the Handbook. In the United States there is an oft-repeated demand that there be an American edition of the Legion Handbook. Some say this new version need not change the principles of the Legion system, but it would present the same ideas in current vernacular, and would thus be more intelligible, especially to junior Legionaries.

This request would seem reasonable, but it is always made by those who never come up with a manuscript for a new American edition of the Handbook. These critics make the suggestion in the form of a complaint, and expect the work to be done by those who are happy with the present English edition. Any manuscript produced by the critics will be given careful consideration by Legion officials.

More and more, however, the Legion Handbook is being accepted as a spiritual classic in no need of having to be "retranslated," much the same as the English works of Shakespeare are not changed for American readers.

It is often commented that the Handbook was composed by a lone Irish author back in the 1920's and that Legion members have been obligated to follow it ever since.

While it is true that the first Legion Handbook appeared in the late 1920's, it is not generally recognized that it has grown from a mere pamphlet to the full-sized, three hundred page volume now in print.

The fact must be acknowledged that the Legion Handbook is a compilation of methods, works and ideals recorded officially only after world-wide testing and acceptance.

The Legion of Mary is lived before it is put down on paper. This being the case, its Handbook will never be quite "up-to-date" for many works and methods being tried today are not yet included in the present edition.


What are some of the other suggestions for up-dating the Legion of Mary? They could be grouped under the following four headings:

1. In this age of freedom the Legion system is too rigid. Legion discipline is not in keeping with the spirit of personal freedom ushered in by the Second Vatican Council. Therefore, the Legion should not insist on the strict observance of its rules. Instead of a weekly meeting for some people, permission should be granted for them to attend a meeting every two, three or four weeks; every Legionary should not be obligated to a substantial weekly work of two hours, but they should be free to do what they feel like doing; instead of being obliged to work in pairs, Legionaries should be free to work alone when they wish to do so; Legionaries should be free to recite whatever prayers they wish at the meetings, instead of being held to recite the set prayers of the Legion. There should not be such Legion emphasis on cooperation with and complete obedience to the hierarchy.

2. The deep Marian devotion that the Legion inculcates in its members is not in keeping with the spirit of the Second Vatican Council. Instead of the Rosary that must be recited at every Legion meeting, there should be other prayers (preferably ecumenical), or at least the Rosary should be cut down to one decade. Legion prayers and sections of the Handbook which mention Mary as the Mediatrix of all graces should be omitted. DeMonfort's practice of true devotion to Mary should not be encouraged, and its description should be deleted from the Handbook.

3. Legionaries should become more ecumenical-minded and less interested in the convert apostolate. In these days of ecumenical movements resulting from the Second Vatican Council the Legion of Mary should change its militaristic tone, change even its name.

4. In the light of the Second Vatican Council the Legion of Mary should become more involved in the social apostolate and in civil rights movements.


1. In answer to the first group of suggested changes we may ask: Is the Legion's rigid discipline in keeping with the spirit of the Second Vatican Council? In deference to the modern spirit of personal freedom should the Legion insist on the strict observance of its rules?

The officers who guide the destiny of the Legion of Mary---all laymen---do not feel that the Second Vatican Council introduced such a spirit of personal freedom that would mean the throwing off of all restraints. They do not feel that the Council wanted to eliminate discipline in apostolic organizations. They know that the Council Fathers wished the lay apostolic groups to organize and regulate their own organizations, which would not mean a permissive relaxation of the rules and regulations of their associations.

When they read from the Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity words like the following: "Lay groups and associations dedicated to the apostolate ... should carefully and assiduously promote formation for the apostolate in keeping with their purpose and condition," (VI, 30) the lay officers understand the mind of the Fathers of the Vatican Council to be that the Legion of Mary should insist on a careful and assiduous observance of its system of apostolic formation of its members.

Actually, the secret of the Legion's success (and success it has achieved all over the world) is in its insistence of the strict observance of the weekly meeting and a substantial weekly apostolic work. A weekly meeting lifts the spirit of the Legionaries and assures the performance of the weekly work assignments. Organizations which have tried to do apostolic works with a monthly meeting have for the most part failed, because in the space of a month interest and spirit can and does wane and die. This will especially be true if the type and amount of work is left to the discretion of an individual. The Legion's insistence on working in pairs will also be an assurance that the work will be done, and done well, and that one Legionary will be able to give encouragement and assistance to the other in the performing of the work.

One reason for a suggested change in Legion prayers and recitation of the Rosary is a strange objection, on the part of priests, to Marian devotion, which objection will be discussed later.

The Legion is criticized by some misguided priests for its insistence on complete cooperation with and filial obedience to the hierarchy, as though this is not what the Second Vatican Council wanted. Those who criticize the Legion for not exercising more personal freedom in relation to the teaching authority of the Church have not read the Council documents carefully enough. Had they read the Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity they would have learned that the Second Vatican Council wants all lay apostles to "function under the higher direction of the hierarchy." (IV, 20)

Pope Paul VI, in his letter to Frank Duff, singles out for special praise the Legion of Mary's discipline and "unflinching loyalty to the Church."


2. To say that the Legion of Mary instills in its members a Marian devotion not in keeping with the spirit of the Second Vatican Council is to betray an ignorance of the Legion's and the Council's teaching on Marian devotion. One who resents the Legion's Marian theology also betrays the fact that he was duped by the news headlines back in 1963 which said that the Second Vatican Council was going to downgrade Mary. Another reason given for opposition to the Legion's teaching on Mary is that the ecumenical movement fostered by the Council requires a softening down of Marian doctrine and devotion.

But is it true that the Legion's devotion to Mary (e.g., its recitation of the Rosary at all Legion meetings) is in contrast to the letter and spirit of the Second Vatican Council? Is it true that the Council downgraded Mary? Is it true that the Council does not want us to recite the Rosary? Is it true that Ecumenism must exclude Mary?

Let's get to the facts; let's examine the records; let's go to the Council documents. What does the Council say about Mary?

Did the Council deemphasize Marian doctrine? In the eighth chapter of the Constitution on the Church the Council Fathers give us a strong reaffirmation of traditional Marian doctrine, for they extol her immaculate conception, her sinlessness, her divine maternity, the virgin birth, her perpetual virginity, her cooperation with her Son in the work of redemption, her bodily assumption, and her coronation as Queen of Heaven.

It is true that the Council did not define any new dogmas concerning Mary, e.g., her mediation of all graces, but neither did it forbid any Marian teachings propounded by schools of Catholic thought, e.g., DeMontfort's true devotion. Indeed the Council Fathers did not intend to make any extraordinary dogmatic pronouncements at all, and they tell us that the Council "does not have in mind to give a complete doctrine on Mary, nor does it wish to decide those questions which have not been fully illuminated by the work of theologians. Those opinions therefore may be lawfully retained which are propounded by schools of Catholic thought concerning her who occupies a place in the Church which is the highest after Christ and yet very close to us." (Const. on the Church, VIII, 54)

Although the Council Fathers did not define the teaching of Mary's mediation of all graces, they did explain that the Blessed Virgin is rightly invoked by the Church under the title of Mediatrix. (Const. on the Church, VIII, 62)

Did the Council deemphasize Marian devotion? Certainly the Council Fathers meant no deemphasis of Marian doctrine, but did they wish to deemphasize devotion to Mary? Did they want us to discontinue acts of piety such as the recitation of the Rosary? Let us listen to the words of the bishops themselves on the subject: "This most holy Synod deliberately teaches this Catholic doctrine (of cult of Mary), and at the same time it admonishes all the sons of the Church that the cult, especially the liturgical cult, of the Blessed Virgin, be generously fostered. It charges that practices and exercises of devotion toward her be treasured as recommended by the teaching authority of the Church in the course of centuries, and that those decrees issued in earlier times regarding the veneration of images of Christ, the Blessed Virgin, and the saints, be religiously observed." (VIII, 67) Pope Paul VI in his encyclical Christi Matri of September 15, 1966, (the encyclical that enjoins the recitation of the Rosary in honor of the Mother of Christ) tells us that, although the Council Fathers did not mention specifically the recitation of the Rosary, this is what they had in mind when they said that exercises of devotion toward Mary should be treasured and held in high esteem. Here are the words of Pope Paul VI: "The Second Vatican Council recommended use of the Rosary to all sons of the Church, not in express words but in unmistakable fashion in this phrase---'let them value highly the pious practices and exercises directed to the Blessed Virgin and approved over the centuries by the teaching authority of the Church.'"

From this official interpretation of a Council document it is clear that the Second Vatican Council wants us to recite the Rosary.

Thus, on the subject of Marian devotion it is evident that the Council Fathers urge all of us to continue our exercises of piety to Mary, specifically the recitation of the Rosary and, by inference, Sodality devotions, May processions and the like. In no Council document do the bishops tell us to diminish our devotion to Mary.


Should the Legion of Mary give less honor to Mary for ecumenical reasons? Does the Second Vatican Council recommend this?

When Pope Paul VI, on November 21, 1964, proclaimed Mary as Mother of the Church, the Council Fathers rose to their feet and applauded most enthusiastically. Many of the ecumenical-minded theologians were not pleased with this expression of the mind of the Council Fathers. They felt that this would harm the ecumenical movement. They felt that ecumenism demands that we tone down mention of Mary, especially any glorification of Mary, in order that our conversations with our separated brethren be less tense and more productive of lasting results.

But is it true that in ecumenical dialogue we should tone down mention of Mary, especially if by doing so, we should water down the Church's teaching on Mary?

Do the Council Fathers advise this? No. In treating of Our Lady in the Constitution on the Church they tell us that theologians and preachers should "guard against any word or deed which could lead separated brethren or anyone else into error regarding the true doctrine of the Church (on Mary)." (VIII, 4, 67)

In their Decree on Ecumenism the Council Fathers tell us that "the way and method in which the Catholic faith is expressed should never become an obstacle to dialogue with our brethren. It is, of course, essential that the doctrine should be clearly presented in its entirety. Nothing is so foreign to the spirit of ecumenism as a false irenicism, in which the purity of Catholic doctrine suffers loss and its genuine and certain meaning is clouded." (II, 11)

In this same Decree the bishops tell us that the faithful in "their ecumenical action must be fully and sincerely Catholic, that is to say, faithful to the truth which we have received from the apostles and Fathers of the Church, in harmony with the faith which the Catholic Church has always professed." (III, 24)

How can we brothers in Christ speak of Christian unity, of a reunion of the Christian family, without talking of a common bond we all should have----the love of a mother, a mother who is Mother of God and Mother of men? Ecumenism without Mary is like a family without a mother.

The Council Fathers tell us that we should pray to the Blessed Virgin for the success of ecumenism. Here is how they say it: "Let the entire body of the faithful pour forth persevering prayers to the Mother of God and Mother of men. Let them implore that she who aided the beginnings of the Church by her prayers may now, exalted as she is in heaven above all the saints and angels, intercede with her Son in the fellowship of all the saints. May she do so until all the peoples of the human family, whether they are honored with the name of Christian or whether they still do not know their Savior, are happily gathered together in peace and harmony into the one People of God, for the glory of the Most Holy and Undivided Trinity." (Const. on the Church, VIII, 5,69)

Mary then must not be excluded from ecumenism. How can she be, if we are exhorted by the bishops of the Council to pray to her for the success of ecumenism?

It is satisfying to know that now in this current time a discussion of Mary's role in salvation history is becoming more and more a part of dialogue among Catholic and non-Catholic theologians. Theologians in ecumenical dialogue are more at ease now in talking of Mary.


3. We are often told that the Legion of Mary should become more ecumenical-minded and less interested in the convert apostolate. In these days of ecumenical movements resulting from the Second Vatican Council the Legion of Mary should change its militaristic tone, change even its name. This criticism is hard to understand by those who know that the Legion of Mary was ecumenically-inclined even before the Second Vatican Council, and before some of the modern ecumenists were even able to talk. As far back as 1939 the Legion of Mary obtained permission from the Holy See to hold theological dialogue with Protestant theologians, and this was at a time when very few of our modern theologians were thinking along ecumenical lines. Around the same time, in 1940, Rome granted permission to the Legion of Mary (an organization intended for Roman Catholics) to receive Orthodox members into its ranks for the purpose of imbuing them with a missionary spirit.

The fact that the Legion system teaches its members to become ecumenical-minded does not mean that the Legionaries must become less interested in the convert apostolate. The Second Vatican Council does not want the Legion of Mary to deemphasize its convert apostolate. Indeed the Council tells us that ecumenism and the convert apostolate are compatible, and our involvement in ecumenical actions must not lessen our missionary urge to bring every soul into the Church. We can be active in ecumenism and still work to bring the many unchurched souls into the Church. Here is how the Council Fathers expressed it: "It is evident that when individuals wish for full Catholic Communion (i.e., admission into the Church), their preparation and reconcilation is an undertaking which of its nature is distinct from ecumenical action. But there is no opposition between the two, since both proceed from the marvelous ways of God." (Decree on Ecumenism, I, 4)

In their ecumenical work the Legionaries of Mary have in mind the thought expressed by these other words of the Council Fathers: "it is only through Christ's Catholic Church which is 'the all-embracing means of salvation, that they (i.e., our separated brethren) can benefit fully from the means of salvation. We believe that our Lord entrusted all the blessings of the New Covenant to the apostolic college alone, of which Peter is the head, in order to establish the one Body of Christ on earth to which all should be fully incorporated who belong in any way to the people of God.'" (Decree on Ecumenism, I, 3)

The Legion of Mary was active in the works of evangelization and sanctification from its very beginning. Among its first apostolic works was the care of lapsed Catholics; very soon after the Legion spread outside Ireland, especially into the mission lands, it became well-known for its successful work of bringing the unchurched into the Catholic Church. Certainly in these days the Legion should be praised for this type of apostolate, not criticized.

We all remember how Pope Paul VI sounded the call to evangelization in his encyclical letter on that subject. Since then bishops all over the Catholic world have urged their Priests, nuns and laity to become more actively engaged in the work of evangelization.

Theologians have been writing about the different methods of evangelization that should be used. They have been conducting workshops on this subject but hardly ever have they asked the advice of the Legion of Mary which, since 1921 has been most successful in all parts of the world in this work of evangelization.

I think that those priests critical of the Legion of Mary, especially the Spiritual Directors who claim the Legion of Mary should be updated, should be asked whether they themselves should not be updated in the work of evangelization and should they not use the Legion as a model for that updating.

The very name of the Legion of Mary with its undertones of military action disturb some in this ecumenical age, but it shouldn't. For although the Legionaries of Mary are engaged in a warfare for souls against Satan and sin, they wage that war in a peaceful way; they hate and fight sin, but love and care for the sinner. The internal organization of the Legion is founded on the order, discipline and loyalty characteristic of the military forces; that is true, but the Legion is by no means militaristic, contentious or antagonistic in its contact with souls; on the contrary, the Legionaries are taught to show in their apostolic work the patience, love and understanding of Our Lord and Our Lady.

The criticism that Legionaries should be more involved in ecumenism, should hold more dialogue meetings with other Christians, etc., may be the result of local conditions where the Legionaries have not been trained in the Legion system or where the local Spiritual Director may not consider it feasible for his Legionaries to engage in ecumenical meetings and other activities of this nature. The Legion of Mary system cannot be blamed for that, for where the system is faithfully followed Legionaries are active in the ecumenical movement, always in accordance with the Council's Decree on Ecumenism.


4. One final criticism of the Legion of Mary is that in the light of the Second Vatican Council it should become involved in the social apostolate and in civil rights movements.

To say that the Legion of Mary is not involved in the social apostolate shows a deep ignorance of the Legion of Mary. Again this may be the result of local conditions where Spiritual Directors and officers may not be training Legionaries properly or may not be permitting them to do the many social works being done by Legionaries in so many parts of the world. In some areas, there is a special praesidium which cares for street girls; another praesidium works with the derelicts; another is made up of patients in a mental hospital; another cares for prisoners in a city jail. Some Legionaries visit the slums where they clean and paint houses, wash the shut-ins, cook for them, read to the blind, teach the illiterate, put out the garbage, mow the lawns, remove snow from the sidewalks, transport invalids to church, etc., etc. And all this is in keeping with the Handbook which states that "the Legion of Mary is at the disposal of the Bishop of the diocese and the Parish Priest for any and every form of Social Service and Catholic Action which these authorities may deem suitable to the Legionaries and useful for the welfare of the Church." Frank Duff, founder of the Legion, elaborated on this theme of social service in a pamphlet entitled: True Devotion to the Nation. All Legionaries should read it.

It is, of course, clear to all Legionaries of Mary that social service does not include giving material relief, nor is it their primary work, but evangelization and sanctification of souls (which they try to accomplish even in their social service) which the Council considers a vital part of the Lay Apostolate, must ever remain their primary apostolic work.

Although the Legion of Mary has not identified itself with any particular civil rights movement, it has always respected the civic rights of all citizens and has taught its members to observe those rights. Indeed the Legion of Mary throughout the world has done much to bring about racial harmony. The Legion from its very inception has been color-blind. At Legion gatherings in all parts of the world, blacks and whites always mingle freely on equal terms. It may surprise some to learn that in this world-wide organization of the Legion of Mary there are more colored members than white.

The Legionaries of Mary may not be carrying protest placards in civil rights marches, but in their march against evil, they are carrying the banner of tolerance, understanding and love of neighbor.

So much for the specific complaints of those who claim that the Legion of Mary should be brought up to date with the spirit of the Second Vatican Council.


Now in a more positive way let us examine the Council's documents and let us see just what the Council Fathers had in mind when they tell us what the Lay Apostolate should be. And then let us compare the Legion of Mary's Handbook with the Council's concept of the Lay Apostolate and see whether or not it agrees with that concept.

What do the Council Fathers think the ideal lay apostolic organization should be? Let us listen to them as they talk to us through the Council documents.

In the Constitution on the Church the bishops give us their definition of the lay apostolate. "The lay apostolate is a participation in the saivific mission of the Church itself. Through their baptism and confirmation all are commissioned to that apostolate by the Lord Himself." (IV, 33) In the Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity the Council Fathers tell us that "the Christian vocation by its very nature is also avocation to the apostolate." (I, 2)

The Legion Handbook (first drafted in the 1920's) stresses the right and duty of every Catholic, by reason of his baptism and confirmation, to share in the Church's mission of spreading the teachings and graces of Christ to every human being. Indeed the Handbook speaks of this apostolate as a vocation. It is interesting to recall that the Legionaries have for years tried to convince others that the lay apostolate is a vocation.

Evangelization and sanctification. The Council states that the laity "exercise the apostolate by their activity directed to the evangelization and sanctification of men and to the penetrating and perfecting of the temporal order through the spirit of the Gospel." (I, 2)

The Legion of Mary always considered evangelization (i.e., spreading the Gospel of Christ) and sanctification (spreading His graces to others) as the first and most important apostolic work of its members.

Mystical Body and lay apostolate. Forty years ago the Legion of Mary stressed the teaching of the Mystical Body of Christ, at a time when not many theologians were talking about it. In fact, the Legion based the Legionaries' right and duty to the apostolate upon their incorporation into the Mystical Body of Christ. This same idea is expressed in the Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity: "The laity derived the right and duty to the apostolate from their union with Christ the head; incorporated into Christ's Mystical Body through Baptism and strengthened by the power of the Holy Spirit through Confirmation, they are assigned to the apostolate by the Lord Himself." (I, 3)

The Legion of Mary always insisted that the laity has the duty to preach the Gospel of Christ to all creatures. The Decree says the laity will "witness to Christ throughout the world." (I, 3)

Renewal of spiritual life through union with Christ. The Legion of Mary always demanded that before a Legionary could try to bring the means of salvation to others, he himself must renew his own spiritual life. This renewal means a progress in holiness which requires an exercise of the virtues of faith, hope, charity, patience and humility. The ultimate goal in this progress in holiness is a close union with Christ. Through this union, which is nourished by a frequent reception of the sacraments, the Legionary will see Christ in every person and will thereby work for the good of that person.

Now the Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity tells us that "success of the lay apostolate depends upon the laity's union with Christ." (I, 4) "This life of intimate union with Christ in the Church is nourished by spiritual aids which are common to all the faithful, especially active participation in the sacred liturgy." (I, 4) "In this way the laity must make progress in holiness ... Such a life requires a continual exercise of faith, hope and charity." "Only by the light of faith can one see ... Christ in everyone whether he be a relative or a stranger." (I, 4)

Lay apostles to have their own special spiritual life. The Decree states: "The laity who have followed their vocation and have become members of one of the associations or institutes approved by the Church try faithfully to adopt the special characteristics of the spiritual life which are proper to them as well." (I, 4)

The Legion of Mary, approved by the Church, has adopted a special Marian spirituality for its members, which is carefully outlined in the Handbook.

Mary and the lay apostolate. The Council Fathers have this to say of Mary and the lay apostolate: "The perfect example of this type of spiritual and apostolic life is the most Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Apostles ... All should devoutly venerate her and commend their life and apostolate to her maternal care." (I, 4) Need we say that the Legionaries do take Mary as their model and queen, and they do commend their apostolate to her maternal care?

Evangelization by word of mouth. How does the Council want true lay apostles to convey Christ's message and grace to all? By the example of a good Christian life alone? No, but by word of mouth. They must talk of religion to others. "An apostolate of this kind does not consist only in the witness of one's way of life; a true apostle looks for opportunities to announce Christ by words addressed either to non-believers with a view to leading them to faith, or to the faithful with a view to instructing, strengthening, and encouraging them to a more fervent life." (II, 6) For many years Legionaries of Mary have been doing this, and in doing it, they have had to bear the brunt of much criticism and be looked upon as eccentric do-gooders. Now they are happy to learn that the Council Fathers want all true lay apostles to do the same thing.

Lay apostles and the art of conversation. The Council wants lay apostles to be trained in the art of "striking up friendly conversations with others." (VI, 29) "In regard to the apostolate for evangelizing and sanctifying men, the laity must be specially formed to engage in conversation with others." (VI, 31)

Everyone who knows the Legion of Mary knows how it trains its members in the art of conversation.

Lay apostles must work against modern errors and vices. In these days, the Council tells us, "The laity must take up the renewal of the temporal order as their own special obligation." (II, 7) They must work vigorously against the many errors men have fallen into concerning the true God, the nature of man, and the principles of the moral law; they must fight against the corruption of morals; and they must try to help those "who having trusted excessively in the progress of the natural sciences and the technical arts, have fallen into an idolatry of temporal things and have become their slaves rather than their masters." (II, 7)

The Legion Handbook and its way of life teaches Legionaries how to combat these errors and vices, and this is what the Legionaries, as soldiers of Mary, have sometimes been criticized for doing.

The lay apostolate must be world-wide in scope. The Council states that lay apostles "should not limit their cooperation to the parochial or diocesan boundaries but strive to extend it to interparochial, interdiocesan, national and international fields." (III, 10) We know that the Legion of Mary does not limit its activities to the parochial or diocesan boundaries. World-wide as it is, it instills into its members a consciousness of the catholicity of the Church. The Peregrinatio Pro Christo, an activity in the Legion, which sends its members to other countries seeking conversions, emphasizes the need of Legionaries to be interested in the care of souls wherever they are. The Council says that: "The global nature of the Church's mission requires that apostolic enterprises of Catholics should more and more develop organized forms in the international sphere. Catholic international organizations will more effectively achieve their purpose if the groups comprising them, as well as their members, are more closely united to these international organizations." (IV, 19) The Legion, through its monthly council meetings, (to which some critics object) creates a bond of unity of its members all over the world.

Legion envoys. The Council states that "There is a source of great joy for the Church in the fact that there is a daily increase in the number of lay persons who offer their personal service to apostolic associations and activities, either within the limits of their own nation or in the international field or especially in Catholic mission communities and in regions where the Church has only recently been emplanted." (Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity, IV, 22)

For many years the Legion of Mary has been sending envoys to missionary lands especially, to set up an active lay apostolate in these territories. These envoys, young men and women, take off three to five years, or more, from work at home to go to these distant lands and to live with the people while teaching them how they can become lay apostles in the Legion of Mary. The Legion is very proud of two such envoys: Edel Quinn, envoy to Africa, whose cause of beatification is now being studied at Rome and Alphie Lamb, envoy to South America, whose cause has also been opened. In the 70's, the Legion introduced lncolae Mariae, whereby a member will take a job in a foreign place and spend all free time working for the Church.

Lay apostolate and youth. The Decree urges young persons to take an active part in the lay apostolate. (III, 12) The Legion of Mary has a full program for young persons either as Junior (grade school) or Intermediate (high school) Legionaries. Through Legion of Mary programs the young do take a very active part in the lay apostolate.

Organized apostolate. The Council praises the group apostolate and states that "associations established for carrying on the apostolate in common sustain their members, form them for the apostolate, and rightly organize and regulate their apostolic work so that much better results can be expected than if each member were to act on his own." (VI, 18) No other lay organization fits this description better than the Legion of Mary which through its weekly praesidium and monthly council meetings sustains and forms its members, and which with great precision organizes and regulates their apostolic work.

Needed characteristics of lay apostolic groups. The Decree names three characteristics which lay apostolic groups must have if they are to be listed under the name of Catholic Action:

1. "The immediate aim of organizations of this kind is the Church's apostolic aim, that is, evangelization and sanctification of men and the formation of a Christian conscience among them so that they can infuse the spirit of the Gospel into various communities and departments of life." (IV, 20)

2. The laity working in an organized body. (IV, 20)

3. "The laity functioning under the higher direction of the hierarchy." (IV, 20)

The Legion of Mary, a highly organized association, has the evangelization and sanctification of its own members and, through them, of other souls, as its primary objective. The Legion's loyalty and obedience to the hierarchy, as set down in the Handbook, has become one of its distinctive characteristics.

In return the "hierarchy entrusts to the laity certain functions which are more closely connected with pastoral duties, such as the teaching of Christian doctrine, certain liturgical actions and the care of souls. By virtue of this mission, the laity are fully subject to higher ecclesiastical control in the performance of this work." (V, 24)

The Handbook of the Legion of Mary states that: "To the Priest the Legion gives respect and obedience which are owing to lawful superiors, yet more than this. Its apostolate is built upon the fact that the main channels of Grace are the Mass and the Sacramental System, of which the Priest is the essential minister. All the strivings and expedients of that apostolate must have in view this great end; the bringing of the divinely-appointed nourishment to the multitude, sick and hungering. It follows that a first principle of Legionary action must be the bringing of the Priest to the People, not always in person---for that may be impossible---but everywhere in influence and in understanding."

"This is the essential idea of the Legion apostolate. Lay it will be in bulk of membership, but working in inseparable union with its Priests, and under their captaincy, and with absolute identity of interests."

Formation of lay apostles. What do the Council Fathers say of the formation needed for lay apostles? Must the spiritual formation be the usual formation given to members of a parish? Or is something special needed for the lay apostles of Vatican II?

They tell us that "in addition to the formation which is common for all Christians, many forms of the apostolate demand also a specific and particular formation because of the variety of persons and circumstances." (VI, 28) "Since the laity share in their own way in the mission of the Church, their apostolic formation is specially characterized by the distinctively secular and particular quality of the lay state and by its own form of spiritual life." (VI, 29)

The Legion of Mary does have its specific spiritual, doctrinal and technical formation, because of which it is often criticized by priests and religious who do not understand that the Second Vatican Council wants lay apostolic groups to have the right to their own specifically lay formation in the apostolate. These critics would understand the Legion better if they would only understand the mind of the Vatican Council Fathers better. If the Legion of Mary wants specific spiritual formation according to a specific Marian theology (approved by Vatican II) then priests and religious must give them this formation, if these priests and religious want to follow the directives of Vatican II. (V, 25)

Formation through planned activity. "Since formation for the apostolate cannot consist in merely theoretical instruction, from the beginning of this formation the laity should gradually and prudently learn how to view, judge and do all things in the light of faith as well as to develop and improve themselves along with others through doing, thereby entering into active service to the Church. This formation requires ... planned activity." (VI, 29)

From the very beginning of its existence in 1921 the Legion of Mary insisted that its members be formed not only through prayers and other spiritual aids but also by doing, by active service and by planned activity. In the Legion of Mary, apostolic work is always planned and assigned to members in pairs who will thus improve themselves along with others by doing ... as the Council wants.

Small groups and frequent meetings. The Legion of Mary, with its weekly meeting of small groups at which Catholic doctrine is discussed by members, and explained by the Spiritual Director, and techniques of apostolic works are discussed, does give its members the apostolic formation recommended by the Council Fathers.

The Council, in effect, describes a Legion of Mary meeting when i states: "Their members meet in small groups with their associates or friends, examine methods and results of their apostolic activity, and compare their daily way of life with the Gospel." (VI, 30)

The Council enumerates the following "aids for lay persons devoted to the apostolate, namely: study sessions, congresses, periods of recollection, spiritual exercises, frequent meetings, conferences, books and periodicals." (VI, 32)

I believe that the Legion of Mary may be the only lay apostolic organization which actually makes use of all these aids recommended by the Council. Indeed, the Legion has a study session at its weekly meetings, its councils have congresses and conferences at determined intervals, each council has an annual Day of Recollection and an annual closed week-end Retreat. At its frequent meetings, i.e., weekly, the Legion does have available books and periodicals for the formation of its members.

Approved lay apostolic organizations to be esteemed by all. The Council says that "all associations of the apostolate must be given due appreciation. Those, however, which the hierarchy have praised or recommended ... or have ordered to be established as particularly urgent, must be held in highest esteem by priests, religious and laity." (IV, 2 1)

The Legion of Mary is never set up in any diocese without the permission and approval of the Bishop of the diocese. Hence, when the Legion is established in an area, the Council tells us, it should be held in the highest esteem by priests, religious and laity.

This is true not only because the Legion of Mary has the approval of the Bishop of the diocese but because it has proved itself to be an organization through which the laity of the diocese can effectively participate in the Church's mission, and because it is a form of the lay apostolate which the Second Vatican Council Fathers want and approve---because it is relevant to our age.


Since the Legion of Mary corresponds exactly to the Second Vatican Council's concept of the lay apostolate, and since it is relevant to our age, it is very clear that it is not in need of updating. Rather, the Legion's critics should become up-to-date in learning just what this modern organization is. They should study the Legion of Mary with an un-biased mind and learn what others already know, namely, that the Legion of Mary is the lay organization best fitted for the implementation of the Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity. They should learn what the late Cardinal Riberi meant when he said: "The Legion of Mary is a miracle of these modern times."