Take it to Our Lady

My father was the one who introduced me to Mary. Every day on the way to school, we would pray the Rosary. It is a tradition I came to cherish and have sought to maintain as a parent. Even though the children now take a bus to school, the daily prayers are a practice I try to maintain – in part as a nod to my father and in part because of the power prayer has to focus me on the things that matter most.

But praying can be a challenge. It can be hard to hear above the din. The drive to the office is only a few minutes and I get busy at home or work. The noise around me – or in my own head – distract.

A few years ago, after Maureen was diagnosed with Colon Cancer, we were at a meeting for diocesan leaders that was taking place as part of the National Catholic Youth Conference, which Maureen organizes. In a moment of unscripted sharing, she told those in attendance about her diagnosis and impending surgery.

All of the sudden a women in the middle of the room interrupted her. “Take it to Our Lady,” she called out, and immediately invited all of us to pray the Hail Mary together for Maureen – and each other.

It was a powerful moment. It was a powerful experience. Even today, though the cancer is gone and Maureen’s at full power, it gives me chills. I can still hear that clarion call, “Take it to Our Lady” echoing as though they are instructions for the rest of my life.

For Mother’s Day, the children gave Maureen a statue of Our Lady for the garden in the back. Our friend, Fr. Joe, will bless it in a few weeks and Katie, who makes her First Communion next Sunday and missed the May Crowning as school, will fashion together some flowers and crown Mary – a small nod to another grandparent lost.

This week, I will focus more on prayer. I will go back to the ritual my father taught me and try to stand still before moving forward.

This week, I will take it all – the pain, the ignorance, the cynicism, the joy, the work, the play, the family, the driving, the shopping, and the conversations – all of it – to Our Lady.

And, like my father, I know I will find peace.

By Patrick Donovan

Originally appeared in