“They are a powerful force before God, praying on my behalf.”
A priest of the Jefferson City diocese spoke of the women of the Seven Sisters Apostolate, who pray for him and his priestly ministry, even when he can’t.
“So often, action is required in the life of a priest where time allows only a hasty prayer,” he stated. “Knowing that my Seven Sisters are praying with and for me gives me confidence as difficult situations arise.”
Twenty-two Seven Sisters Apostolate groups are active in the Jefferson City diocese, and the movement is growing.
Women of all ages take part in the prayer apostolate, spending a Holy Hour before the Blessed Sacrament each week, interceding exclusively for the priest of her parish.
Each sister has a designated day, so the whole week is covered and the pastor is supported in prayer.
The women pray anonymously, without most fellow parishioners and sometimes not even the priest knowing who all of them are.
But the priest does know that someone is praying for him, every day.
“The spiritual support provided by the Seven Sisters is certainly a mental and emotional encouragement,” one priest of this diocese stated. “But I’m also relying on their prayers to help me grow in virtue and to be a good pastor, not just for some of my people, but for all of them.”
The Seven Sisters Apostolate came to this diocese after a parishioner moved to Minnesota, where the movement was founded, and became involved in it there.
She then told a friend in this diocese about it.
The friend looked at the Seven Sisters website and posted a message on Facebook, asking if six other woman would join her in starting it in their parish.
“Two hours later, we were up and running,” she recalled. “And most days, we now have double coverage.”
Encouraged by the volunteers’ enthusiasm and their pastor’s gratitude, the members of that group began contacting women in other parishes.
The number of Seven Sisters groups steadily began to grow.
So did the number of participants.
“It’s not like you get just seven and then you stop,” one participant noted. “We have 12 in my parish. That’s not just handy for back-ups, but if someone doesn’t feel like they had a very good prayer time today, someone else’s could have been great.”
Each group has its own coordinator, known as an anchoress.
“Anonymity is an important part of the apostolate,” the anchoress for one parish noted. “This helps us avoid any hint of favoritism.”
Meeting only with Jesus
One Seven Sisters participant said she feels particularly suited to this apostolate because she is very introverted.
“I don’t want to do a bunch of meetings and emails and social media,” she said. “I just want to tuck myself away and pray for an hour.”
The group in her parish does have a closed Facebook group for sharing prayer intentions and updates when they arise, and asking for substitutes when needed.
Nonetheless, the movement has drawn people of all temperaments, from outgoing to reserved.
Men of the hour
One anchoress noted that men can help the apostolate in several ways:
“You can be anybody who says, ‘Can I take your toddler so you can go do it?’” one participant suggested.
There’s also kind of a “sidecar ministry” called Fasting Brothers.
“One day a week, a particular man in a parish has chosen to give up something as a concrete prayer action for his pastor,” an anchoress noted.
A good foundation
One Seven Sisters participant noted that the diocesan pastoral plan calls for increased focus on co-responsibility among laypeople and their priests and deacons in the Church.
“There are many ways to volunteer in the Church, and they’re all important,” she said. “But the foundation of all of that has to be spiritual, has to be prayer, or it will be like building a house on sand.”
She noted that Seven Sisters is a great opportunity for older parishioners who have more time but not as much physical energy as they used to have.
Volunteers of all ages can pray for an entire hour at a time or in two or more parts throughout the day.
Likewise, women whose children are young or in need of constant attention can pray while carrying out day-to-day tasks at home.
“The vision at the top is really that kind of intense prayer you can only do when you’re alone and uninterrupted in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament,” one Seven Sisters participant stated.
“But we don’t want to leave women out who have to do it differently or break it up into parts,” she said. “There’s lots of flexibility for those whose lives can’t accommodate that.”
One pastor in this diocese noted that when priests are ordained, they promise to remain committed to prayer, imploring God’s mercy upon the people and praying for them without ceasing.
“I am very grateful to the Seven Sisters Prayer Apostolate, that as the People of God are daily remembered in my personal prayers and the Liturgy of Holy Mother Church, so, too, are prayers being intentionally offered on my behalf as an unworthy servant in the service of the Lord and His people,” he said.
Anyone interested in starting a Seven Sisters group at her parish or volunteering for an existing group can write to the diocesan anchoress at:
Priests may also write to that address for information about starting a group in their parish.
A wealth of information and resources for prayer can be found at the diocesan and international Seven Sisters Apostolate websites: