History of the Crusade of Prayer / Prayer Enrollments
The Crusade of Prayer was founded by Mother Mary Shannon at the Boston Cenacle in 1928. In answer to a need, she conceived the idea of expanding “The Lamp”, already functioning, thus creating the “Crusade of Prayer”.
“The Lamp” was started in New York as a means of making the prayer ministry better known to retreatants and involving them in sharing the prayers of the Cenacle Sisters. “The Lamp” was the sanctuary lamp burning in a low bowl into which the names and intentions of retreatants were placed. A donation was given and each retreatant received a card with a lamp symbol.
In 1922 the Boston Cenacle (now closed) had assumed a debt for building a chapel and a new wing. The community prayed for support to raise the funds for the debt and Mother Shannon thought out a plan to create attractive cards for those in need of prayer for various intentions. After consulting with theologians, canonists, diocesan officials, and after careful study, the concept of the Crusade of Prayer was approved. With canonical sanction, and ecclesiastical permission, The Crusade of Prayer was launched on January 23, 1928. In an account of yearly comments recorded in 1931, it read, “The wonderful Crusade of Prayer has helped us pay our bills.”
At the time of the founding of the Crusade of Prayer in Boston, there were four other Cenacles in the United States: New York, Newport RI, Ronkonkoma NY and Chicago. The Chicago community was the first to follow Mother Shannon’s lead by opening a Crusade Office in 1931. They designed their own cards and printed them on their own printing press. Ronkonkoma NY was the next to follow in 1933 working from a basement room.
Many other Cenacles’ added the Crusade ministry to their house and by 1939 donors were sharing in prayer with the Cenacle Sisters communities in New York, Newport, and St. Louis. Shortly after the Warrenville house opened in 1939, the Crusade Office opened and shared the same designs as the Chicago Cenacle.
As each Cenacle added the Crusade of Prayer to its works, the diocesan authorities were consulted. In February, 1945, Archbishop Cushing met with one hundred lay leaders at the Boston Cenacle, and highly endorsed the Crusade of Prayer as a means of furthering our apostolate of prayer, and of giving those who make use of it an opportunity to help us carry on our work and share their faith with others.
In 1995 the Sisters updated the prayer ministry and after consulting with theologians, changed the ministry title to “Cenacle Prayer Enrollments” dropping the concept of Crusade because some people thought the word “Crusade” was to militant. At this time they also dropped the previous wording that indicated that the prayers were only to be said for one month, six months or one year. The Sisters continue to pray perpetually for all those enrolled and every enrollment represents perpetual Masses and Prayers.
The Cenacle Prayer Enrollments moves into the future, building on the labors and sacrifices of the past, with the flow of creativity and dedication carrying it along still springing from its distant source.