To show support for the U.S. bishops as they gathered at the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary for a retreat requested by Pope Francis, members of lay ecclesial movements met at St. Mother Theodore Guerin Parish in Elmwood Park Jan. 3 to pray. More than 70 people turned out for Mass and adoration at the parish’s St. Celestine site as part of a larger effort of the 21 lay movements active within the Archdiocese of Chicago to support the bishops. Each group took a day to have its members pray during the bishops Jan. 2-8 retreat. The bishops’ retreat was planned in response to Pope Francis’ request to a delegation of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops leaders during a meeting at the Vatican in September. Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher of the papal household, directed the retreat. Mundelein is the largest Catholic seminary in the country and home to over 200 seminarians from 34 dioceses. “We want to show them [the bishops] that we support them, that they are not alone in this,” said Renata Kaczor, co-chair of the archdiocesan committee for lay movements and a member of Domowy Kosciol (“Domestic Church”), which is dedicated to the sanctity of marriage. “We also want to ask God to help them, help us and everybody in the very difficult situation the church is going through now.” Many lay ecclesial movements and associations have arisen within the Catholic Church, mostly in the 20th century. Movements active in the archdiocese include Focolare, Charismatic Renewal, Legion of Mary and Regnum Christi. “I’m sure they [the bishops] feel very isolated and persecuted,” said Michael Sublewski, co-chair of the archdiocesan committee for lay movements and a member of Neocatechumenal Way, which is dedicated to “rediscovering our baptism and lived in small communities,” according to the archdiocesan website. “We want them to know that we support them and prayer is the best way to do that.” “There’s nothing more diabolical” than the abuse of children by priests, said Lauretta Froelich of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, “and yet Jesus told us that not even the gates of hell are going to prevail against his church. We’re here to tell them [the bishops] that we support them. We know who has the answers.” That’s the Holy Spirit, Froelich said. By praying for and supporting the church’s leaders, the lay movements are fulfilling their mission, Sublewski said. “The movements are a help to the church,” he said. “Especially in this time where there’s a scarcity of priests, we’re here to help, to nourish, to look for the far away, the people who have left the church, the people who have no religion at all, the people who don’t have an answer to their life and who are struggling.” Referencing how papal preacher Cantalamessa, who led the bishops’ retreat, felt compelled, after Pope John Paul II was elected, to stand in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican beneath the windows of the papal apartment, and cry out “Courage, John Paul! Courage,” Froelich said the lay movements are doing the same today. “I really think that’s what the lay movements are doing now, tonight and every day in the life of the church. We’re the ones who go out to the world and so we’re crying out to the priests and the bishops, ‘Courage!’” she said. “We have found a personal relationship with Jesus that’s changed our lives, so we want to tell others about it because we want them to be transformed in their lives too.” Other groups around the archdiocese also prayed for the bishops during their retreat: Carmel Catholic High School, which is located across from the main gates of the seminary, prayed a novena for the bishops that concluded with an all-school Mass Jan. 9; Mundelein Seminary asked students, staff and supporters to join in a “prayer chain” for the bishops; and Marytown, which is located less than a mile from the seminary, joined with Relevant Radio and the St. John Paul II Eucharistic Adoration Association for 24-hour eucharistic adoration in their chapel during the retreat. .