Worldwide Legion of Mary Celebrates 100 Years
By Amanda Hudson, News Editor
September 16, 2021
ROCKFORD—The Cathedral of St. Peter was the setting on Sept. 8 for a special rosary and Mass held in celebration of 100 years since the founding of the Legion of Mary.
The Legion of Mary is a lay apostolic association of Catholics that began in Ireland and now is present around the world. Its twofold purpose is the spiritual development of its members and advancing Christ’s reign through the Blessed Mother.
Bishop David Malloy celebrated the Mass, which drew numerous members from both the English- and Spanish- speaking diocesan membership. The Mass was bilingual. He was joined at the altar by Father Kenneth Anderson, rector at the Cathedral, and Father Darwin Flores, spiritual director for the Spanish-language Legion of Mary members.
Bishop Malloy reflected on Legion of Mary founder, Servant of God Frank Duff, and said, “I wonder how confident Frank Duff and the others were (at the first meeting) that 100 years later in Rockford, there would be a crowd like this that would be gathered ... I wonder (if they realized) that lay association was going to be something that went all over the world.”
On the evening of Sept. 7, 1921, Duff, Father Michael Toher of the Archdiocese of Dublin and a group of Catholic women held their first meeting in Dublin. The resulting lay apostolate now, the bishop noted, “has made itself present in something like 170 countries all over the world.”
It is “geared to the good of those whom it serves and to its members who serve,” he said, noting that “there’s a special emphasis in this group ... on service to the parish and diocese ... and especially to the service of the sick.”
Sept. 8 is the feast of the Nativity of Mary, and the bishop reflected on how the Blessed Mother might easily fit in with the Legion of Mary members.
“Could we not see her combining the life of prayer with active assistance for the poor, for the widows and the widowers around her,” he said. “In short, could we not see Mary willingly sitting among us, because of what this organization does and what it desires to do?”
The 1921 founding of the Legion was four years after Mary’s appearances at Fatima, Bishop Malloy said. 
“There, Mary told (the children) of the need to pray for the world ... because it was losing sight of her Son. This is something we can never lose sight of: praying for sinners, for conversion, for the return of sinners to the Church ...
“As a mother, she wishes to bring all of us, all of her children, to Christ, to her Son. She is the mother of all humanity.”
Members of the Legion of Mary should “look back and thank Mary for all the graces that have been given,” the bishop said. “But the Legion is not simply for the past. It is for the past, and it is for the future. It is for the joys and the challenges in front of us.”
The world needs Mary’s example and prayers, Bishop Malloy said, calling on the Legion of Mary to work on “making her known, making her loved, (and) being of service and imitation of Mary. How much that is needed in our own angry, unhappy, unfaithful and, in many ways, unforgiving” world.
The victory for Christ, he said, will come to the world “person to person, family to family, (through) transmission of the faith, of the commitment, of good conduct, of prayer, of attending Mass, of sacrificing for others for their good. Doesn’t that summarize so much of the Legion of Mary?”
Bishop Malloy concluded his homily with words of encouragement to all gathered.
“The Legion of Mary is one of the great models, examples and answers to the trials and troubles and difficulty of our time,” he said. “Continue this work. Continue to pray. Continue to try and show this (apostolate) to the young people in your family.”
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