PAISLEY, Scotland (CNS) — With COVID-19 still restricting travel, a Scottish bishop led a 33-day virtual journey of prayer that drew about 4,000 people from his diocese as well as from countries that included the United States, Uganda and Australia.
Bishop John Keenan of Paisley said he invited the priests and parishioners of his diocese and beyond to join him on a “consecration journey to Jesus through Mary,” beginning Jan. 9.
“I am surprised I haven’t missed a single day,” one participant wrote on the bishop’s Facebook page. “Normally, I am not able to do such things. I don’t think I have finished a single novena in my life.”
For 33 nights, Bishop Keenan led the prayers and readings live on Facebook. Most nights about 500 families and individuals joined in, he said, noting that each day’s recording had a total viewership of about 4,000. Many were from the Diocese of Paisley and others joined from Ireland, the United States, Poland, Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, Canada, Sweden, Ethiopia and Australia.
The virtual journey brought prayer back into family homes, said Bishop Keenan, who is vice president of the Scottish bishops’ conference.
“Creating a habit of prayer is so important for families,” he said. “If families can create a routine of coming together to pray, this will strengthen them and have a profound healing effect in the world.”
The prayers were “characterized by simplicity, confidence and trust,” following the book “Child Consecration to Jesus through Mary,” by Blythe Marie Kaufman, the bishop said, noting that this “opened the door to people of all ages, even children, to join me in this consecration journey.”
“More and more, I am seeing the beauty and importance of growing in simplicity,” he said.
There seemed “to be graces surrounding it all around and something greater than the sum of its parts,” Bishop Keenan said. With spiritual growth a journey theme, a 12-year-old girl called Bridget shared one evening, “Lovely to be with you in prayer tonight. Excited for tonight’s gardening,” he said.
Noting great reluctance among participants for the journey to end, Bishop Keenan is continuing the nightly prayers and leads the rosary at 9 p.m. local time (4 p.m. ET) on his Facebook page.
“I do not think I have ever felt the sort of supernatural belonging that I feel in these evening gatherings with Our Blessed Mother and all our livestream family. There is something of heaven about this consecration,” he said.