Amy Geisler of Bruce stands with a poster of the existing Seven Sisters Apostolates in the Diocese of Superior. These groups of women who pray for their pastors are invited to gather – and bring a friend – for a day of reflection on May 6 at St. Mary’s in Bruce. (Catholic Herald photo by Jenny Snarski)

Jenny Snarski
Catholic Herald Staff

It was 10 years ago, in October 2013, that Esther St. Catherine, a member of St. Joseph’s Parish in Hayward, started the first Seven Sisters Apostolate group in the Diocese of Superior.

The Seven Sisters Apostolate was formalized in 2011 after foundress Janette Howe, a parishioner at St. Paul’s Cathedral Parish in the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, felt called to pray intentionally for her pastor. During those hours, she heard the call to expand the effort to seven women – each praying one hour a week for their priest, thus covering all seven days.

In the Diocese of Superior, there were five groups of seven women by 2015. In 2017, under the guidance of then-president for the diocesan CCW Barbara Gagliardi, Amy Geisler of St. Mary’s Parish in Bruce began coordinating efforts to expand the Seven Sisters Apostolate. Through her efforts, the apostolates grew to cover 29 priests, with two groups praying for Bishop James P. Powers.

Geisler, who continues to coordinate efforts, has been working to rejuvenate the groups after the pandemic closed churches and shut down many adoration chapels.

Three years from those initial lockdowns, Geisler has organized a Day of Reflection for Saturday, May 6, at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Bruce. The goal for the day is to renew women who have participated in the apostolate and to invite and encourage new women to participate in this gift of prayer for priests.

With 43 active diocesan priests – including Bishop Powers and international priests who serve in diocesan parishes – plus 20 retired priests still living and serving in the region, Geisler and others who work with her are hoping to double the number of priests for whom the women pray.

The May 6 event is being promoted to women currently a part of the Seven Sisters Apostolates and any woman who might be interested in participating or starting a group. Active “sisters” are encouraged to bring a friend to introduce more women to this simple yet profound offering of prayer and support for priests.

The Saturday schedule will begin with registration and breakfast at 8:30 a.m. and will include Mass at 11 a.m., followed by lunch and ending with a question-and-answer period that concludes around 2 p.m.

Janette Howe, foundress of the Seven Sisters Apostolate, will speak at 9:30 a.m. Howe will also be bringing first-class relics of St. John Vianney and St. Mary Magdalene for veneration.

The apostolate’s structure calls for seven women – one to cover each of the week’s seven days – who commit to a weekly holy hour exclusively for their pastor or another priest. One of those seven is designated as the anchoress, to organize and guide the group.

The initial commitment is for one year, running June to June with May being the discernment period to continue or for new women to join. Ideally the holy hour is prayed in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, although not restricted to the woman’s parish to allow for flexibility. Each apostolate has substitutes (which need not only be women) for continuity if needed.

RSVP by April 25 to Laurie Fortuna at the Rusk County Catholic Community office, or 715-532-3051.

Anyone unable to attend the event who is interested in getting involved with the apostolate can contact Amy Geisler at .