Origin and History of the Legion of Mary:
In a poor and old part of Dublin, in a property known as Myra House, in Francis Street, the Legion of Mary began. The St. Vincent de Paul Society owned the house and the local conference held its meetings there. Sometime about 1917 some women were asked to assist this conference in serving free breakfasts on Sundays to poor children. When, later on, the free breakfasts were discontinued, the women remained to form, with a number of the brothers, a recruiting-centre for the well-known Irish temperance society, the Pioneer Total Abstinence Association. For this purpose regular meetings were held, at which the prayers from the Vincent de Paul prayer-card were recited, with the addition of the five decades of the Rosary. There was spiritual reading, followed by the minutes of the previous meeting. Then reports were given by members on recruiting campaigns and any other apostolic activity in which they may have been engaged. There were also discussions on religious doctrinal subjects, as well as on practical methods of assisting others and doing good for the Church. The meeting usually began at 4.30 p.m. on Sundays and ended with recitation of the Angelus, announced by the six o'clock bell. These meetings continued until sometime in August 1921.Father Toher, one of the assistant priests of the parish, was present at all meetings. With his friend, Father Creedon, he was largely responsible for the developments which later took place. Amongst the lay-people the guiding spirit was Mr. Frank Duff, who has rightly been recognised as founder of the Legion of Mary. At this time he held a responsible position in the Ministry of Finance, a position which he later resigned to devote all his time to the work of the Legion. More than any other, Mr. Duff was to be instrumental in forming the spirit, forging the constitution, and shaping the destiny of the future movement.
The First Meeting:
On that fateful Wednesday night, September 7, 1921, at 8 o'clock, fifteen ladies met Bro. Duff and Father Toher in the usual meeting-room in Myra House. What was their surprise to see that she whose name they were to bear was there before them! They came to the meeting ready to serve as soldiers under the banner and patronage of Mary, and, as in the case of all proper armies, the commander was there, ready to receive their enrolments. When they came to the room, the table around which they were to meet and which was usually bare was decked out just as for a present-day Praesidium meeting. There was the white cloth and the statue of the Immaculate Conception, two vases with flowers, two candlesticks with lighted candles. The Queen was waiting for her soldiers. It was the happy thought of one of the earlier-comers, though no instructions had been given. The meeting commenced with the invocation and prayer to the Holy Ghost, followed by five decades of the Rosary. When the opening prayers were finished there was spiritual reading. Then those present sat up, and, without realising it, applied themselves to one of the great historical events of the world, the mapping out of the Legion of Mary.
Membership of the Legion of Mary is open to all Catholics who lead edifying lives and who are prepared to fulfill each and every duty which Legion membership involves. Persons wishing to join the Legion must apply for membership to a Praesidium. No candidate can be accepted without the sanction of the spiritual director, acting with the authority delegated to him by the parish priest or Ordinary.
Active Membership requires the following:
1. The punctual and regular attendance at the weekly meeting of the Praesidium, and the furnishing there of an adequate report on the work done.
2. The daily recitation of the Catena.
3. The performance of a substantial active Legionary work, in the spirit of faith and in union with Mary.
4. The observance of an absolute secrecy in regard to any matter discussed at the meeting or learnt in connection with Legionary work.
Active members who undertake, in addition, the daily recitation of the full Legion prayers, daily Mass and Holy Communion, and the recitation daily of some form of Office approved by the Church, are Praetorian members. The Praetorian Guard was the flower of the Roman Army.
Just as an army, no matter how well organised, must have its commissariat, so Mary's army, the Legion, depends upon the support of a strong body of auxiliary members, assisting each Praesidium and forming part of its organisation. An auxiliary member of the Legion is one who, being unable or unwilling to assume the obligations of active membership, nevertheless undertakes to supply the active units, as it were, with ammunition by saying the five decades of the Rosary and other specified prayers every day for the intentions of Mary. By its ever-growing auxiliary, the Legion essays to make its own the confident words of Pius X: "I could conquer the world if I had an army to say the Rosary." By this, also, a barrier is raised against adverse local criticisms and a ready means is found to fulfil the special mission of extending and intensifying devotion to Mary.
Here in St Sebastian Church:
At present there are 25 active members and 25 auxiliary members in the association. They are doing lot of service to the church through their prayer and also by helping the needy.
Office bearers for the year 2014-15:
Director: Rev. Dr. J. B. Saldanha
Asst. Director: Rev. Fr. Rohan Lobo
President: Jacintha D'Souza
Vice President: Sumana Janet D'Souza
Secretary: Rita D'Souza
Treasurer: Cecilia Monteiro
Asst. Treasurer: Irine D'Souza
Legion of Mary
Origin and History of the Legion of Mary: