Our Lady of Guadalupe prayer group celebrates 40 years

Harriet Beiter, coordinator of the Our Lady of Guadalupe Novena Prayer Group at St. Marianne Cope Parish in Henrietta, stands next to a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe during the Feb. 14 prayer group gathering. (Photo by Leonor Rivera)

HENRIETTA – Forty years ago, five women met at Guardian Angels Church to pray for a friend with cancer. They continued to meet regularly, and over time they added prayers for other intentions.

One of the women, Harriet Beiter, shared with the group her special devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Beiter told the women of a dream she had as a child, in which she saw a beautiful lady standing on a rock by a river. Years later, a friend showed him a book of Marian apparitions, and Beiter recognized Our Lady of Guadalupe as the lady on the rock. After recounting her dream, Beiter said the women decided to name themselves the Our Lady of Guadalupe Novena Prayer Group.

Beiter serves as the group’s coordinator, and meetings are held Mondays from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Guardian Angels Church, part of St. Marianne Cope Parish. The group, which has about 15 regular members who all share a devotion to Our Blessed Mother, celebrated its 40th anniversary on December 12, the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Beiter said meetings begin with members singing a song to Our Lady of Guadalupe. Then the group recites prayers which may include novenas and the rosary; prayers to Our Lady of Compassion and Queen of the Americas; a divine mercy rosary; and prayers for the United States, the New Year, the sick, the lonely, the depressed, and the Pope. Prayer time also includes five minutes of quiet, private meditation, and meetings end with another song.

Karen Davis, a member of the group since 1990, said she believes that when two or more people pray together, prayers are heard. Davis said she likes the resilience of the group, as its members have found ways to come together during the pandemic.

“The pandemic couldn’t stop us,” she remarked.

Beiter said during the pandemic, members brought lawn chairs and met in person at Tinker Nature Park. When it got cold they moved to Wegmans on Calkins Road. Wegmans welcomed them, she said, and an employee even set up chairs for their meetings.

Karen Davis’ sister-in-law, Rosemary Davis, is one of the five original members of the prayer group. Rosemary Davis said she started praying novenas when she was 13. She believes the Blessed Mother helped her husband get the job that brought her to Rochester 51 years ago.

“I simply love Blessed Mother. I can always count on her,” she said.

“I am a member (of the group) because I need the connection with my Blessed Mother. I feel at peace praying,” said Irene Taliento, who has been with the group for six years. “The rosary is our weapon.”

Taliento said she remembers enjoying the May coronations at her Catholic elementary school. She also smelled the roses while praying during a medical procedure and thinks it was a sign from the Blessed Mother that everything would be fine, and it was.

Trina Viscardi has been a member for 15 years and her devotion has been encouraged by her mother, grandmother and the religious education classes she has taken. Viscardi said she was fascinated by the 400-year-old image of Our Lady of Guadalupe which is displayed in the Basilica in Mexico City, noting that the image on the fabric has not deteriorated or faded.

Ten years ago, Richard Schneider asked his wife, Phyllis, if she would like to attend prayer meeting with him, and they have been attending ever since. At the February 14 meeting, the couple, who have been married for 53 years, each led parts of the rosary while seated side by side.

Beiter said the prayer group is open to anyone who has a devotion to Our Blessed Mother. She said she hopes people will come to pray with the group and be with the Blessed Mother.

EDITOR’S NOTE: For more information on Our Lady of Guadalupe Novena Prayer Group, contact Harriet Beiter at 585-334-2912.

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