SALT LAKE CITY – The Legion of Mary, which has active ministry at four local parishes, celebrates its centenary this year.
The Legion of Mary is a worldwide organization of Catholic laity – men, women and youth – who pray and undertake apostolic work in union with Our Lady under the guidance of a priest. It was first organized in Ireland in 1921 and soon spread throughout the United Kingdom, then to the United States, Canada, India, Australia and Africa, followed by the whole of Europe and Latin America. It has been approved by the last six popes, and was endorsed by the Second Vatican Council.
“Some people are unfamiliar with the Legion of Mary, but it is the largest apostolic organization of lay people in the Catholic Church in almost every country of the world,” said Pam Lagerquist, Utah Legion of Mary president.
The Diocese of Salt Lake City has four active praesidium, which is the organization’s basic unit. These groups are based at the parishes of St. James the Just in Ogden, St. Francis Xavier in Kearns, St. Therese of the Child Jesus in Midvale and St. Ann in Salt Lake City. The local groups meet weekly. Members, who generally work in pairs, are assigned weekly apostolic tasks.
Once a month all the groups gather for what is known as a curia.
“We do service in our community through evangelization. The foundation of our legion has to do with the performance of substantial active Legion of Mary works in the spirit of faith in union with Mary in such a passion that the people of God are once again served by our Mother,” Lagerquist said.
According to the organization’s website, “the general and essential means by which the Legion of Mary is to effect its object is personal service acting under the influence of the Holy Spirit, having Divine Grace as its moving principle and support, and the glory of God and the salvation of souls as its final end and purpose.”
As part of their work, members of the Legion of Mary serve their own pastors in any way they may need, she added.
“One of the Legion of Mary missions is to evangelize to those who are unable to attend Mass,” she said.
About 30 people are active locally in the organization. “We lost some members due to the pandemic,” Lagerquist said. “Our main purpose is to give glory to God through the sanctification of our members.”
Those interested in membership in a praesidium apply to join. If they have a successful period of probation, members over the age of 18 are called to make the Legionary Promise, which is directed to the Holy Spirit.
The Legion of Mary also has auxiliary members, who associate themselves with the Legion by undertaking a service of prayer in its name.
“They are our prayer warriors,” said Lagerquist, who asked for people throughout the diocese to pray for the Legion of Mary and attend the different celebrations in honor of the organization’s centenary.
Bishop Oscar A. Solis will acknowledge the Legion of Mary at an Oct. 16 Mass. The diocese also will honor the Blessed Mother during the traditional Intercultural Marian Celebration on Saturday, Oct. 9. The Legion of Mary will lead the procession, which will start at 3 p.m. at St. Joseph Catholic Church, 506 24th St., Ogden. Mass will follow. All are invited to this event.