It only takes a spark to start a fire. That’s exactly what a passionate group of students at Ave Maria University in Ave Maria, Florida, are doing again this year.
For the third time, students who are a part of the Mary and Mercy Center, which is adjacent to campus, are organizing college students across the country to make a Marian consecration. The Consecration begins on Nov. 5 and ends on Dec. 8, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.
Students use Father Michael Gaitley’s bestselling 33 Days to Morning Glory book for the consecration. The Mary and Mercy Center is shipping out free copies to college students who request them. Alternatively, they’ve also developed an app to help students stay on track during the consecration.
Marian consecration is about entrusting one’s life to Our Blessed Mother, knowing that she will lead us to her Son. Some of the most popular Marian consecrations include St. Louis de Montfort’s 33-day guide, St. Maximilian Kolbe’s nine-day consecration, and in recent years, Father Michael Gaitley’s 33 Days to Morning Glory.
“Marian consecration totally changed my life,” says Alex Showman, who graduated from Ave Maria University in May 2020 and is now the director of the Mary and Mercy Center. “I made my first consecration for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception shortly after my conversion to Catholicism in 2017. Since then, I have seen myself grow in so many ways to become a holier person. Mary has guided me down the path to obtain my degree and to show me where the Lord is asking me to be for him.”
“I know that if it wasn’t for my consecration or the Mary and Mercy Center, there is a chance I would have fallen away from the faith,” Showman continues.
The Center was founded by Bill and Donna Bradt, who are eager to reach the “everyday Catholic who has limited time and resources but wants to grow in their faith.”
The Center’s outreach to college students is impressive: Just three years ago, a group of 25 Ave Maria students began spreading devotion to Marian consecration, including to other faithful Catholic colleges in The Newman Guide. Now, thousands of copies of 33 Days to Morning Glory have been shared with students at more than 200 public and Catholic colleges across the country.
“The joy and excitement that we have experienced from working with these young students has been such a blessing,” says Donna Bradt. “Witnessing their growth in love and trust for Mary and her Son and hearing their stories of how they now can see Mary working in their lives brings hope for the future.”
The location of the Mary and Mercy Center couldn’t be more appropriate, according to Maria Rubio, a sophomore at the University. “To have the Mary and Mercy Center be based right next to campus helps all of us to really focus on the mission and the identity of our school: That this is Mary’s University, and she desires us to become ambassadors to bring our fellow brothers and sisters home to her.”
Rubio had “no clue what Marian consecration was before college,” but believes that making the consecration has helped her to “live my essence of being a daughter of God to the fullest extent possible.”
While COVID-19 restrictions are holding back some universities from being able to hold many in-person gatherings and events this year, the students at the Mary and Mercy Center remain committed to spreading Marian consecration. One consecration at a time, they are helping Our Blessed Mother lead souls to her Son.
This article first appeared at the National Catholic Register.