Joining Our Lives to Christ

Friday, October 01, 2021 12:40am

“Honor the Lord from your wealth and from the first of all your produce.”

— Proverbs 3:9

Greetings to dearest Sisters in Christ! In October 1996, at the behest of my husband, we welcomed his Moldovan friend and family to share our home. Recipient of a green card lottery, Sasha set hopeful sights on raising his young family of five in the USA.  Eventually the family settled in a home nearby. To this day, Sasha annually offers us the first fruits of his garden, including his blue-ribbon organic wine. His enduring gratitude and gesture are humbling and teach much.

October, typified by harvest, presents a perfect time to honor Our Lord with gratitude for the first fruits He has borne through the Apostolate.  In Mignard’s striking painting of Madonna of the Grapes, our patroness judiciously chooses the promise of the Eucharistic life in the embrace of the grapes, forsaking the two apples.  She is the New Eve, bringing forth new life through Christ. The image alludes to the very place in the Vineyard to which Our Lord’s invitation is extended to Seven Sisters – to help fortify those ordained to perpetuate the vital Eucharistic life!

Prayer is the sure mark of the Apostolate.  It is the under-girding and the fabric all at once. Seeking the Lord’s wisdom and guidance through prayer was and remains the spark for His Work.  Prayer ignited the Apostolate into being, and keeps it aflame.  At the same time, it is a call to the work of patience (Lk 8:15). Similarly, those that tend gardens know first-hand of the arduous labor of tilling, sowing seeds, nurturing, and the ensuing necessary patience to await the harvest.

As Seven Sisters intercessors, while both effort and patience in the task of prayer is essential, the key of assured fruitfulness is joining our lives to Christ.   “Abide in Me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. … He who abides in Me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:4-5).  A rightly-ordered relationship with Christ bears the witness of the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:22-25) in our lives and its influence in the lives of others.  How fitting that Our Lord calls Seven Sisters frequently (every seven days!) into His Presence, to nurture our friendship with Him. It is fit-with-potential to bear fruit!

St Teresa of Calcutta once mused that while she arrived in India with five rupees in hand, God’s return to her was five branches of an Apostolate (MC Sisters, Priests/Brothers, Lay MCs, Co-Workers, Volunteers).  So too, in its ten years young, Seven Sisters has yielded fruit aplenty – both evident and hidden.  For what is, for what is to come – gratitude and glory to God!

Some of the bounty bears a name, and evident influence and enhancement within the Apostolate:  Fasting Brothers, Appreciated and Loved Quilt Project, Lamp-Bearers, Elijah’s Helpers. Starting as the tiniest of seeds, each group quietly sprouted, is flourishing, and being entrusted with more. Participants in these groups bear fervent witness of drawing strength from abiding in the Vine.  Other outgrowth through the Apostolate, presents as more tangible: Our Website, Database, Guideline booklets, Brochures, Prayer aids, annual Holy Cards, monthly Communiques, videos, magazine and newspaper articles, radio interviews, annual gatherings and times of Reflection and Renewal. These abundant offerings from so many, so often are likewise guided and fortified by abiding in the Vine.

This fruitfulness that can be rostered, even assigned a name, gives boast to Our Lord for His fore-ordained Work and His invitation to join Him.  What cannot be rostered, that which is omnisciently hidden, beckons the attention of our thoughts and the lifting up of our grateful hearts, as well.   For who can measure the fruitfulness within the heart of an intercessor or the heart of the recipient of one’s prayers?  How far reaching is the influence of a heart converted, a heart renewed, a heart strengthened?  Graces without limit!

Testimonies in the Matter of the Heart in these monthly Communiques give beautiful, unsullied hints of the interior metanoia and fruit therein.  Joy that is consistently witnessed in the lives of Seven Sisters is another!  Your individual weekly sacrifices of prayers, offered in love, bear fruit without measure, fruit that will last.  The Lord reminds that “you did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide: so that whatever you ask the Father, in My Name, He may give it to you” (John 15:16). Let us ask, ask, ask!

The vividly effectual image of Madonna of the Grapes, as the resolute yet gentle overseer of the Eucharistic life, invites us to companionship and fruitfulness in this mission.  Together with St John Vianney and St Margaret Clitherow, the three boost our fervor to pray for our priests to grow in holiness and in their desire to tenaciously uphold the Eucharist as source and summit of our Faith.  Prosperity in such a mission is rooted in an ever-deepening friendship with Christ. The Psalmist (92:13-14) reminds, “Planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God.  They will still yield fruit in old age.  They will be full of sap and very green.” Let us remain in the Vine, the very fruit of Mary’s womb, as co-workers in the Vineyard – and anticipate fruitfulness, fruit that is stored in the heavens.

United in prayer and mission…that our prayers may find the heart of every bishop and priest…

… eternal gratitude continues as you each remember to offer a wee Hail Mary for me every day….  “One Ave Maria makes hell tremble” (St John Vianney). Pray that I will not ‘spoil the beautiful work that God has entrusted…’  (St Teresa of Calcutta)

… your kind emails and notes and phone calls and generous support always arrive to my heart door at the right moment! Your financial sacrifices are for 100% furtherance of Apostolate.  THANK YOU!  The letters of testimony are so beautiful and edifying! What glory is given to God through your writing!

Eternal gratitude is mine for YOU! Be assured of my continued daily prayers for you at the altar.

Janette (Howe) +JMJ+


10th Anniversary Year of our Founding Graces (03/24/11 – 03/24/21)

In celebration: (1) Upon reading this, pause to extend personal gratitude to Our Lord for all the fruitfulness of your prayers – known and unknown. (2) In October: invite 7 people to the Apostolate work (as intercessor, Fasting Brother, Quilt project, Lamp-Bearer, Elijah’s Helper, and/or recipient priest) to go and bear fruit! (3) In this month dedicated to greater use of the rosary, offer a rosary during your Holy Hour, if not already doing so.

SEVEN SISTERS – in and out and about:

Heartfelt welcome: New groups registered in SEPTEMBER to cover more priests in daily prayer:  Additional groups in Spain & these USA states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin. We pray daily for priests and bishops on 6 continents, 25 countries, all 50 USA states, and nearly every Province in Canada!  God’s worker bees never tire – “cross pollination” bears both blossom and fruit!

DAILY prayer for Apostolate GROWTH: During this Year of St Joseph (12/08/20 to 12/08-21) every Seven Sister is asked to offer DAILY the Act of Confidence:  Heart of Jesus, I adore Thee. Heart of Mary, I implore thee. Heart of Joseph, meek and just. In these three Hearts I place my trust.

RECENT … and AHEAD on the calendar:

> 09/27/21: Heartfelt Birthday Blessings for 100 years! to active “prayer warrior” Seven Sister, Leona Schiffer, who prays for her pastor in Dubuque, IA – in between keeping up her apartment and baking cakes from scratch! (I have seen the photos – she glows with joy!)

> Gratitude to Colleen for hosting a lively informational at St Ambrose (Woodbury, MN) 09/11/21.

> 10/11/21, Monday, 6:30 pm. Informational for Rosary Guild, Holy Cross (Minneapolis, MN).

> 10/18/21, Monday, 5:30 pm. Serra Club meeting/dinner in Winona, MN.  Janette will speak.

> 11/06/21, Saturday.  Day of Recollection. 9 am-3 pm, including lunch. Diocese of Arlington.  St Andrew the Apostle Church, Clifton, VA.  Cost $30 by 10/20. Contact:

>11/06/21, Saturday. Annual Archdiocese St Paul-Mpls Morning of Reflection and Renewal.  Archbishop Hebda will celebrate Mass.  Basilica of St Mary, Mpls. 8 am-12 noon. Robust coffee break, no lunch this year. Free will offering. Registration:

> 01/21-22/22. St Felix Retreat Center, Huntington, IN.  Real Women Wear Armor (Eph 6:10-18)

Janette will lead this retreat.  Contact Tammie to learn more:


Ø  “I belonged to another parish that had this, switched parishes and decided to start it. I truly believe in the power of prayer and as a lifelong Catholic I know being a priest is even harder today than in the past. We need to pray since so much is expected of so few.” (Frances, Alaska)

Ø  “I heard about this program while I was visiting St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Williams, AZ. I was inspired and decided to start up a group in our home parish. We have two new priests and we feel that they, and the parish, would benefit from this program.” (Elaine, California)

Ø  “We have a new vibrant pastor who has had to overcome many challenges in his first year (still more to come.) I have been praying about ways to support him when a friend of mine told me about the Seven Sisters Apostolate. This is so perfect as I am always trying to promote prayer and Eucharistic Adoration! It is almost like the Lord dropped this in my lap as a way to help and evangelize! We are so excited to begin and will begin on the feast of St Francis of Assisi to whom our pastor has a special devotion.” (Rebecca, Florida)

Ø  “I substituted for a friend once; it was the first time I heard of the Seven Sisters and that they pray for priests. Then I read your communique and really loved the writing. Now I am starting a group for a dear retired priest.  God calls us step by step sometimes!” (Betty, Virginia)

ELIJAH’s HELPERS: Through request of our Chaplain, Fr Joseph Johnson, this group commenced in the Archdiocese of St Paul-Mpls on June 11th.  Called Elijah’s Helpers, its mission is to pray for priests in crisis in the Archdiocese. The intercessors offer Holy Hours as any Seven Sister group, with a commitment to one day each week. No names of particular priests nor nature of crises are known.  The group is in its course of a one-year pilot, with hopes, God willing, of launching similar groups in other Dioceses in the future.  Want to know more? Contact Nancy,

APPRECIATED and LOVED quilt project:  A double cloaking for RETIRED PRIESTS: Seven Sisters prayer and a quilt! The priests love both!  To learn more regarding a single quilt for a retired priest or on how to get this started in your Diocese, contact

FASTING BROTHERS is growing: Groups of men offering various forms of fasting to augment the prayer efforts of a Seven Sisters group.  Each man prayerfully discerns the type of fasting he will offer and commits to fast a designated day of the week (excepting Sunday/Solemnities). Our Chaplain, strongly urges formation of these groups. Anchoresses: let us know the Seven Sisters group to which the Fasting Brothers are linked, name of lead Brother, his contact info and the start date.

LAMP-BEARERS: In January 2020, Lamp-Bearers, so-named for their action of continually ‘filling of their lamps with the oil of prayer’, was launched to pray for the Apostolate at large.  Each intercessor prays a minimum of once per week, but many are offering prayers every day.  Intentions are gleaned from topics and calendar points in the monthly Communique and also sent to members on the second or third Sunday of the month.  Additional intercessors welcomed.  Those desiring to learn more, send an email of interest/inquiry through the Website.

SEVEN SISTERS Guideline BOOKLETS: Available as free download from Web site.  Hard copies passed on for printing cost of $2 each + P/H. Order thru Web email with amount desired/address

SEVEN SISTERS Tri-fold BROCHURE:   Effectively used in parish pamphlet stands (ask pastor’s approval prior), Adoration Chapels, Retreat Centers, Bags/Packets for Women’s Conferences/Retreats, Women’s clubs, Serra clubs – or simply handing out!  Available on Web as free download.  Recommend 80# silk for best printing results.  May also order through Web site.  Indicate address/quantity.  25 for $10 + P/H.  Available in ENGLISH and SPANISH.

SEVEN SISTERS Tri-fold LITANY for PRIESTS: Beautifully printed on 100# silk (a bit thicker than brochures).  Original artwork (inspired by the Diary of St Faustina) by Seven Sister in Minnesota, Litany by Richard Cardinal Cushing.  25 for $10 + P/H.  Available in ENGLISH and SPANISH.

REMEMBRANCE of those SEVEN SISTERS who have PASSED: We want to remember those Seven Sisters in name and in prayer, who have gone before us to their eternal rest. Visit the Web site. Click on ABOUT folder and scroll to bottom, choose: IN REMEMBRANCE.  Follow prompts… OR you may submit info via the Website email. Please check site monthly for additions!

PRIEST who has PASSED to ETERNAL REST: If the priest for whom you pray has entered eternal life, the group may be led to continue to pray for a length of time for the soul of that priest. Perhaps a novena of Holy Hours or the offering of holy Mass(es) for the priest.  You will know.  Some groups have/are offering Holy Hours for an entire year for their beloved deceased priest.  Groups may be started following the death of a priest that did not have a group prior.  This is commendable and welcomed.  Please register these special groups through the Web site.

SPANISH translation of Communique:  Due to unforeseen work duties, Zahyra B has been on leave from Apostolate work the last 2 months.  She hopes to get this one translated, posted/archived on the Website.  If it is easier to receive through an email account, please let me know. Expect 2-4 days for translation. Commitment Prayer/Guidelines Booklet in Spanish (on the Web – free download).