Father Justin Paskert is often seen on the campus of USF sitting on a bench waiting to hear confessions and offer God’s healing Sacrament of Reconciliation. When “business” is slow, he passes the time by praying for the students who are strolling the campus.
This idea of praying for random students led him to spearhead an Advent prayer campaign for students that involved praying 10 Memorares in a row, also known as a “Flying Novena.”
The Memorare is a Catholic prayer that seeks the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Memorare is Latin for “Remember” and the prayer starts: “Remember, O Most Gracious Virgin Mary.”
“This prayer is not as well-known as other Catholic prayers, so it was a great opportunity to introduce it to younger adults and they loved it,” said Father Justin Paskert, Director of Catholic Student Union, USF. The prayer participants, some learning about it on social media, prayed as many “Flying Novenas” as possible for students. Then they visited the website https://catholicusf.org to report how many times they prayed. The grand total: 40,180 Memorares that were prayed for students or 4,018 “Flying Novenas.”
“We were able to give the Christmas gift of prayer to 4,018 students of Tampa’s USF campus,” said Father Justin.
Helping college students to grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ and to encounter His love and mercy is a major initiative of Courageously Living the Gospel. The Diocese of St. Petersburg is seeking to increase student participation by 1000% (4,000 individuals) at established campus ministry communities and create new Catholic student communities for all local colleges and universities in the Diocese by Easter of 2021.
Father Justin believes prayer is how they start to reach their goal.
“Our first contact with 4,000 students is by praying for them,” said Father Justin. “The fact that we offered prayers for 4,018 students and our goal is to increase participation by 4,000 students is not just a coincidence, it’s a God-incidence,” added Father Justin.
Here is the Memorare prayer:
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your help, or sought your intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly unto you, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother. To you I come, before you I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in your clemency hear and answer me. Amen.
To learn more about “Flying Novenas” click here.