Frequently Asked Questions
Nature of the Apostolate
Where does the Seven Sisters Apostolate exist?
The Apostolate was founded in the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, but there are groups throughout the United States and even in other countries. Please help keep the website updated by encouraging any groups you encounter to send information to us. View our locations here.
Is the Seven Sisters Apostolate approved by the Church?
The Seven Sisters Apostolate is currently in the process of seeking approval from the Catholic Church as a Private Association of the Christian Faithful.
How is this distinct from spiritual motherhood?
In its original inspiration, the apostolate was specifically characterized by the word “sister” rather than “mother.” We do not seek to be the origin or source of the priest’s vocation as a “mother”, but rather a fellow disciple in the family of faith—a spiritual sister. Though Mary is our model for prayer as she is for all Christians, her maternity is not the primary aspect in which we seek to imitate her in this apostolate. Rather, we emulate her fidelity in “hidden” support of her Divine Son as the first and most perfect disciple.
Any plans for including men in the prayer efforts?
Men are wonderful and willing substitutes for Holy Hours, but the Apostolate remains true to the original inspiration for seven women—Seven Sisters. There are many other groups that offer prayers for priests.
I’m already in a group, but how can I help spread this apostolate to pray for another priest?
Contact your Anchoress with the priest’s name and location. There is the possibility that a group may already exist about which you are unaware. This website tries to maintain an accurate list of current groups.
Are materials about Seven Sisters available in other languages?
Materials have been translated into other languages by various individuals. In the interests of ensuring fidelity to the original inspiration, we ask anyone making a translation to contact us. We will help to obtain the Church’s approval for these translations and to make the fruits of those labors available to others.
Group Structure and Relationship with the Priest
Are there meetings to attend?
Some groups do not even get together with each other, let alone with the priest. The essence is the “hidden” commitment of a weekly Holy Hour. We do encourage the beautiful practice of gathering together for the annual commitment prayer on or around the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart. Some groups host an annual luncheon or dinner, to which the priest could be invited if he wished to attend.
This apostolate resonates deeply with me, but committing to one day a week is not feasible in my station of life and current commitments—how can I be a part of this?
Discernment is needed before joining this apostolate. Perhaps something else needs to be laid aside or curtailed to make this commitment possible, or the timing is not yet right for your involvement. Two other solutions: (1) offer to be a substitute, knowing you can decline when circumstances do not allow; and (2) inquire as to whether another woman might have the same situation and the two of you could share the committed Holy Hours (e.g. every other week, first two weeks vs. last two weeks, every other month). Note that one woman should be designated as the Seven Sister in the core group and the other as an assistant.
Can there be more than seven women in the group?
There should always be a core of seven intercessors—each specifically assigned to a day of the week—but others can supplement these hours of prayer either regularly or periodically. Some groups have one or two permanent substitutes whom members may contact. If numbers continue to increase then perhaps additional groups can be formed to pray for other priests (e.g. hospital chaplains or others without a parish assignment, retired priests, the bishop, retired bishop, priests on leave of absence).
Should the priest being prayed for be told about the apostolate?
The Anchoress is responsible for informing the priest of the gift of our prayers. Some priests prefer not to know the names of the intercessors, but the Anchoress should introduce herself and the Apostolate’s mission and structure (see sample letter). This is a “hidden” apostolate and not meant to be an imposition on the priest or to establish an ongoing relationship or series of meetings. Thus, the priest does not need to be involved other than receiving the courtesy notification that he is the recipient of the gift of daily prayers in these holy hours.
Does the “hidden” aspect forbid further contact with the priest if he desires it?
“Hidden” does not mean that there can be no contact at all, but the priest should generally initiate such contact. It is important to remember that sisterhood establishes a spiritual relationship for the group rather than creating preferential individual relationships with the priest. This is not a fan club or inner circle for the priest! The group exists to serve the priest’s spiritual needs. Appropriate reaching out as a group would be observing the priest’s birthday or anniversary of ordination, or celebrating Father’s Day.
What happens if our priest dies or leaves the priesthood?
The commitment of a group is to pray for the benefit of our shepherd. Those who have died or left the priesthood are no longer fulfilling the role of shepherd. However, it is a worthy effort to hold in prayer those who have died or are struggling. Some groups have discerned to continue praying for their priest. This is commendable as long as it does not deprive the incoming priest of a group to pray for him.
Practical Aspects of the Prayer Commitment
If I am traveling, can I offer a Holy Hour elsewhere?
You are committed to a particular day of the week but not to a particular hour or place. Some intercessors maintain the same time and place each week to help them ‘keep the discipline’ but this is not required. If it isn’t possible to be in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, you should offer an hour of quiet prayer wherever you are.
What if I am unable to make my Holy Hour?
For various reasons (e.g. health, travel, weather, family affairs) it is sometimes challenging to make the Holy Hour as scheduled. If you are unable to make your committed Holy Hour, you are to seek a substitute. This person does not have to be part of the Apostolate or even a woman. You simply need to explain the mission and ask the substitute to pray in our way to the extent possible. If you are unable to secure a substitute, contact your Anchoress and see if she can help. If a substitute is unavailable, try to offer the time of prayer as best you can even from home or a sickbed or on an airplane.
Can I read a devotional book during my Holy Hour?
If the purpose of reading is to enter into prayer for the priest, then it is most likely valuable. For instance, you may be reading a book about the Holy Eucharist with the idea of praying for a deeper Eucharistic life for the priest. During your reading, a reflection or segment may cause you to pause and pray for the priest in connection to what you have just read.