HE Legion of Mary was founded in Dublin on September 7, 3921; eight years later, on the evening of Rosary Sunday, 1929, the first. Praesidium of. the Legion was established in the Birmingham Archdiocese by the Rev. John Power, in the parish of the Sacred Heart, Silverdale, Staffs.
Very soon afterwards Fr. Power was transferred to Birmingham to build a new parish at. Saltley, and on September 8, 1930, he established the first Praesidium in the city. Soon afterwards Praesidia were formed at Stechford by the late Father Gateley and at St. Vincent's, Milted, by Father Cox.
These developments necessitated the formation of the Legion Curia for the City of Birmingham.
With the formation of the Curie intense propaganda work by Curia officials brought new strength to the Legion until to-day practically twenty Praesidia are under the Birmingham Curia; new Legions have been formed at Droitwich, Stourbridge, Sheldon Handsworth, Bioxwich, Tamworth, Chasetown and Stoke on Trent, with several additional Juvenile Praesidia.
The distance of the outlying Praesidia made the formation of the new Curia at Stoke and Wolverhampton necessary, and as elsewhere the formation of the new Curia brought new Blessings and new strength to the Legion, until to-day there are twelve Praesidia under the Stoke Curia and half a dozen at Wolverhampton.
The strength of the Legion in the Archdiocese is now about 30 Praesidia.
The work of the Legion of Mary is personal Sanctification through prayer and work for others. The means: the undertaking and obedient performance of necessary parish work given by the parish priest.
Census Twelve Times in Six Years
In one parish the Legion have taken a parish census twelve times in six years, which might seem unnecessary until it is explained that 75 per cent. of the Catholic population of the parish (a large industrial one) has changed In that short time.
Many mixed marriages and Register Office marriages have been put right, often in cases where the priest could not even have made contact. Scores of converts have been instructed. Catholic children attending non-Catholic schools and even chapel Bible classes have been roped in by Juvenile Legionaries.
The sick have been visited and the lax encouraged. Juniors have canvassed the parish for the Catholic Press and where desired they deliver the Catholic papers weekly. In this way Catholic papers are getting into a great many homes where they are perhaps the only evidence of the Faith. Unbaptised children of Catholic parents have been brought along for baptism; and fot those who regard manual work as the only real work it is well to mention that the Legionaries are responsible for t1' entire cleaning and other work in the very large parish church.
All this work is accomplished by one Praesidia, of less than twenty members, but it is only typical of the work done in the other parishes.
The inspiration of the Legion in Birmingham has been Father John Power, parish priest of Our Lady of the Rosary and St. Therese at Saitley, and perhaps the key to his remarkable influence is contained in a sentence of his from his pulpit recently. "Our Lord spent thirty years of his life in prays and seclusion and three years in active work. Thus we see Our Lord's estimate of the relative value of prayer and work, thirty to three or ten to one."
to " Christ the King." Recently the Society has organised similar rallies in other centres, and notable among those held have been at Rugeloy, Cannock, Wolverhampton and Harvington. These rallies have been very effective in bringing together men of all classes to public profession of Faith.
At the present moment arrangements are proceeding for such a rally to be held in Leamington on Sunday, June 18, when His Lordship the Bishop-Auxiliary will preside and the chief speaker will be Count Michael de la Bedoyere.
While helping in all parochial Catholic activities, the Society is at present concentrating on work for the welfare of Catholic boys and youths, and every branch is being urged to increase its efforts in this direction,