Encountering Christ through Mary to be focus of March 20 Day of Prayer for Vocations

Bilingual event in Cathedral to draw upon the power of Our Lady of Guadalupe


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Scott Watts has some advice for people who attend the Jefferson City diocese’s third annual Day of Prayer for Vocations on Saturday, March 20, in Jefferson City. 

Plan on being part of something incredible.

“Allow God to surprise you!” said Mr. Watts, keynote presenter for the event. “And be confident that He will do that.”

The Day of Prayer will be held from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. in the Cathedral of St. Joseph, 2305 Main St. in Jefferson City, and in the Cathedral Undercroft.

The theme will be: “Encounter Jesus Under the Mantle of Our Lady of Guadalupe.”

“People who show up are going to see miracles,” said Mr. Watts. “Their relationship with Mother Mary is going to be changed forever.

“They’re going to realize that the spiritual and mystical realities that we read about in the Scriptures are happening now, and they’re happening super-abundantly, and they’re happening through regular people,” he said.

The event will open and close with Mass at 8 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.

Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. in the Cathedral.

The Sacrament of Reconciliation will be available from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Mr. Watts will give workshops in English and Spanish at 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. in the Undercroft.

Bishop W. Shawn Mc­Knight will preside at the closing Mass, which will be offered in English and Spanish.

“Look out, Missouri!”

Mr. Watts’s presentations are dynamic, uplifting, entertaining and very accessible.

Participants will not only hear the stories of St. Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe like never before, but will gaze upon life-size images of Our Lady’s miraculous image and touch items that tie in with it.

“This is exciting!” said Mr. Watts. “This is life. This is eternity. This is learning how the Lord is desiring to encounter you in a thoroughly compelling new way.”

Millions of conversions to Catholic Christianity have been attributed to the Blessed Mother’s miraculous apparitions to St. Juan Diego near present-day Mexico City in 1531.

The longing for all people to be reconciled with her Son and to “do whatever He tells you” continues to burn in Mary’s Immaculate Heart.

“If people come and are truly receptive to this message — then look out, Missouri!” said Mr. Watts. “These people are going to be a bright light shining on a hill.”

Mr. Watts is a lay missionary with a nonprofit organization called Hope of the Poor and is founder of Guadalupe Missions, a branch of that organization.

He leads retreats and mission trips to poverty-ravaged locales in the United States and abroad, giving material and spiritual help to people in need.

“We’ve gotten people off the streets,” he said. “We get kids school uniforms, feed hungry people, and get them shoes and medical attention.”

But the main ministry is of presence, encounter and discovering Jesus in the poorest of the poor.

“Boy do we have stories!” said Mr. Watts. “Stories of miracles, of healings, of conversions, of being delivered from addictions. Amazing, honest-to-goodness miracles.”

“Little Doctor”

Mr. Watts is a Catholic convert. He thought he might have a priestly calling but left the seminary to pursue lifesaving work as a first responder.

He had just earned his certification and gone to work on an ambulance team when his best friend invited him to join a newly formed missionary outreach.

There was no job description, and he would have to raise his own money.

“Between a 26-hour and an 18-hour shift at an ambulance station, I hopped a plane to Mexico for five days,” he recalled.

He visited a community of about 1,000 people living in a trash dump on the outskirts of Mexico City.

He put his medical and theological training to work, treating about 50 people’s wounds and earning the name, “Doctorito” — “Little Doctor.”

“I was standing with my medical kit on top of a five-story-tall mountain of garbage, having helped tons of people and prayed with them and handed out clothing and shoes and ministering alongside people who used to live there,” he recalled.

There were wild dogs everywhere. He was shaking cockroaches out of his shoes while walking past used syringes and other vestiges of human misery.

“And I felt a peace and joy that I had never felt anywhere,” he said. “I knew this was for me.”

With only enough money in the bank for a month’s rent, he quit his job, started fund-raising to pay his way and began leading mission trips back to Mexico.

These would include pilgrimages to the nearby Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, where millions of people every year go to see the miraculous image of Our Lady.

“Through the combination of learning the basics of the story and taking people on the tour of the basilica and Tepeyac Hill, along with spending a lot of time in prayer and studying voraciously — I came to be seen as an expert on Our Lady of Guadalupe,” he said.

Salt and light

Mr. Watts brings a clear sense of urgency, immediacy and relevance to his presentations, focusing on helping people discover God’s plans for them.

“Being this crazy musician, former firefighter-type of guy helps me look at things differently and inject humor and humanity and relatability into the story,” he said.

He draws on transcripts of St. Juan Diego’s personal recollections of his encounters with the Blessed Mother, as well as scientific evidence about the miraculous image.

“The words Our Lady spoke back then are still speaking to us today in a very relevant way,” Mr. Watts insisted.

He believes devotion to the Blessed Mother is an important key to promoting all vocations in the Church, because she always leads people to Jesus.

In the case of St. Juan Diego, she chose to share her message with a poor, indigenous man who at first would not be believed.

“She told him, ‘I have no shortage of people to call on, but it is important to me for you, my son, my dearest lad, to carry out this mission, and God will give you sufficient grace to carry it out,’” Mr. Watts noted.

“And from all of that came the largest conversion in recorded history,” he said.

The same kinds of encounters are still happening. People who were lukewarm now burn with the fire of Christ’s love and the desire to be saints.

“It may sound super-awkward if you ever say ‘Saint’ before your own name, but being a saint is the only way you’re getting to heaven,” said Mr. Watts.

He advised parents who want that for themselves and their children to do whatever it takes to get them to this day of prayer.

“You will encounter Jesus in this mission,” he said. “If you come with even a little bit of openness of heart, you’re going to get what Our Lady wants you to have. She’s going to bring you into an encounter with Jesus.”

That encounter will help people become salt and light for a world that’s becoming increasingly bland and dark.

“That’s exactly what God needs from us,” said Mr. Watts. “Just as the world continues to become less friendly to the Church’s teaching and to Christ, we’re being invited to become more radical.”

Saying yes

The Day of Prayer for Vocations is completely free of charge, although free-will offerings will be accepted to help with the life- and soul-saving work of the ministry.

As Mr. Watts prepares to share all of these things, he asks for prayers to be able to let God shine through him and present what God wants people to receive at this moment.

“What you desire in your heart, God already desires more than you can possibly desire it,” Mr. Watts noted. “He loves you more than you can possibly receive, and He has the power to do more than anything you could possibly ask of Him.

“We just need to be open to receiving what we need and what He delights in saying yes to,” he stated.

Visit guadalupemissions.org or hopeofthepoor.org, or search “Guadalupe Missions” on Facebook and Instagram to learn more about the ministry and how to help with it.