St. Monica Sodality

A devotion promoting prayer and self-mortification for the return to the Catholic faith of family members and friends. The core of the Sodality Devotion is weekly recitation of the St. Monica Novena, followed by the Holy Rosary for all of the intentions submitted to the Sodality.

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St. Monica Novena

The St. Monica Novena is a weekly devotion to pray for the return to the Church of fallen-away, marginal and apostate Catholics from among our families, relatives and friends. Every Wednesday evening, the public is invited to a public recitation of the St. Monica Novena and Rosary for this intention. It is followed by a Tridentine Mass. Confessions are also available during this time.

A brilliant son with a promising future leaves home for advanced studies. His mother, who is a devout Catholic, soon finds her son falling into the wrong crowd, which leads to vice and loose living. He turns against the faith of his youth, lives in sin with a woman for many years and even has an illegitimate child. Finally he joins a strange religious cult. The family is ripped apart and the grieving mother is left in tears to pray for the highly unlikely return of her boy to the Church.

The story may sound familiar to you. Perhaps it sounds like a lot of families you know-or worse yet, your own family. It has been a common story in the last thirty years and rarely has a happy ending.

But the above scenario isn’t a story from the 1990s! The grieving mother lived in the fourth century A.D. in the Roman territories of northern Africa. Her brilliant son did eventually return to the Church to become a great bishop, founder of a religious order, Saint and Doctor of the Church. The figures are St. Augustine of Hippo and his long suffering mother, St. Monica, who prayed thirty years for her son’s conversion. Their story reveals to us how unchanging is this human drama, which has played out time and time again for centuries.

St. Monica gives us a model of what can and must be done if we hope to restore health to our families and our Catholic community. She is the inspiration for a new crusade of prayer and self-mortification called the St. Monica Sodality, which was founded at St. John Cantius Parish in Chicago on January 3rd, 1995. The Sodality’s purpose is twofold: to pray for a return to Catholic unity and to provide prayerful support for those who have experienced the loss of faith of a loved one.

Fr. Frank Phillips, C.R., pastor of St. John Cantius Parish, is the founder and chaplain of the St. Monica Sodality. “The letters we have received have been very moving and the stories they tell are just tragic,” comments Fr. Phillips. “I am very glad that we can offer some hope and comfort to these families to let them know that they are not alone and that our prayers here at St. John’s are with them and for them.”  Since its founding, the Sodality has attracted national and even international attention with petitions regularly arriving from around the world.

The approach of the St. Monica Sodality is not one of despair or of fixing blame for the catastrophic disaffection of so many Catholics since the Second Vatican Council. It is here to help people find strength, to persevere and to lay the groundwork for an authentic renewal both of family and religious life. It was the very unlikely and wayward Augustine who became one of the most influential religious figures of all time and a pillar of Catholic orthodoxy against such major heresies as Pelagianism and Donatism. In the end, it was Monica’s prayers and labors to bring back her brilliant and promising boy that conquered obstacles beyond her imagination. Just as for St. Monica fifteen centuries ago, the Sodality bearing her name strives to, as one member bluntly stated, “get our people back to the Church and get their lives straightened out.”

The core of the St. Monica Sodality Devotion is weekly recitation of the St. Monica Novena, followed by the Holy Rosary. Sodality members meet at 7:00 P.M. every Wednesday evening at St. John Cantius Church for a public recitation of the Novena and Rosary for all of the intentions, which have been submitted to the Sodality. It is followed by a Tridentine Mass.

Those who cannot personally attend the Wednesday evening devotions at St. John’s can become members of the St. Monica Sodality, as so many around the country have already done. They can join in pray with their private recitation of the novena and Rosary every Wednesday evening wherever they may be. To become a Sodality member please send $20.00 to: St. Monica Sodality, 825 N. Carpenter St., Chicago, Illinois 60642-5499. Petitions and requests for further information about the St. Monica Novena can also be sent by e-mail to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

“It’s unbelievable when you stop and realize that we probably have more fallen away Catholics than active Catholics. The Catholic culture in the United States has literally fallen apart before my eyes and there just hasn’t been much real progress and reversing of the process. And so we’re going to storm heaven! We’re going pray our people back, ” remarked Shirley Cichy, a member of the St. Monica Sodality. “Catholics must stop weeping by themselves and start praying together to bring our people back. We have a straightforward program of prayer and penance for people to follow and by banding together we can draw strength and hope from each other. People must realize that they are not alone in this crisis.”