Josephine “Jo” Clyde, a parishioner of St. Henry Church, has dedicated more than 35 years of service to the Blessed Mother as a member of the Legion of Mary for one simple reason.
“I love the Blessed Mother. I’ve always loved her,” Clyde said. “I have been blessed to always love her since I was a little kid.”
Clyde along with the dozens of members of the Legion of Mary Nashville Comitium rededicated their lives to Mary during the annual Acies ceremony on Sunday, March 26, at St. Michael Mission Church in Cedar Hill.
Acies “means more and more every year because I’ve been in the Legion of Mary for so long that it feels like an even deeper commitment,” Clyde said, who renewed her commitment for the 37th time this year.
Clyde first joined the Legion of Mary 37 years ago in Phoenix, Arizona, having been asked to join by a fellow parishioner at her church.
“I didn’t even know what it was, so I started going there and I’ve been in the Legion of Mary ever since,” Clyde explained.
Clyde was part of the Phoenix legion for five years before she and her husband, Jim, moved to Nashville. Soon after establishing their new home at St. Henry, she started a praesidia there 32 years ago, and remains an active member providing door-to-door evangelization services, taking part in enthronements of the Sacred Heart in people’s homes and more.
Clyde is also responsible for starting multiple praesidia in the Diocese of Nashville.
“I just want other people to get to know the Blessed Mother like I have,” Clyde said. “It’s so beautiful to know that I can go to the Blessed Mother with anything and that she’ll always be there to answer my prayers.”
Middle Tennessee currently includes 14 praesidia – the Immaculate Heart of Mary at the Cathedral of the Incarnation, the Our Lady Queen of Hope at St. Henry, Our Lady Queen of Assumption at Church of the Assumption, and the Our Lady of Kibeho at St. Mary of the Seven Sorrows, all in Nashville; the Notre Dame Du Lac at Our Lady of the Lake Church in Hendersonville; Our Lady of Mount Carmel at St. Joseph Church in Madison; Queen of Peace at St. Rose of Lima Church in Murfreesboro; Mary, Queen of the Universe at St. Stephen Catholic Community in Old Hickory; Mary, Mother of the Church at Immaculate Conception Church in Clarksville; Our Lady of Light at St. Luke Church in Smyrna; Maria Reina de Los Angeles and Our Lady, Cause of Our Joy both at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Springfield; La Rosa Mistica at St. John Vianney Church in Gallatin; and the Our Lady of Sorrows junior praesidium at Immaculate Conception School in Clarksville.
Every year both the active members who provide two hours of service a week and the auxiliary members who actively pray for their fellow members come together for the annual event.
“It’s important to hold Acies every year just like it’s important to take Communion every week,” said Ann Stout, president of the Nashville Comitium. “It helps to make you steady in your commitment.”
Each year a different praesidium in the diocese hosts the event. This year, the event was hosted by the Our Lady, Cause of Our Joy praesidium at Our Lady of Lourdes.
“Annually, we rededicate ourselves in the cause of bringing souls to Christ through the help of the Blessed Mother,” explained Sheila Winters, president of the Our Lady, Cause of Our Joy praesidium. “Since we are the Legion of Mary, we’re her soldiers.”
The event began with an hour of silent adoration followed by a rosary of the Sorrowful Mysteries led by Father Anthony Lopez, pastor of St. Michael and Our Lady of Lourdes. Then, he delivered the Allocutio, or a spiritual talk on the Blessed Mother.
“True devotion to the Blessed Virgin … requires the formal entry into a compact with Mary whereby one gives to her one’s whole self with all its thoughts and all its deeds and possessions, both spiritual and temporal, past, present and future, without the reservation of the smallest heart or the slightest little thing,” Father Lopez said. “In a word, the giver places himself in a condition equivalent to that of a slave possessing nothing of its own and wholly depends upon and utterly at the disposal of Mary.
“They are submitted to her that she may spend it all for God. It is the sword of martyrdom, the sacrifice of self to God. With Mary as the altar of that sacrifice, how conformed to me to the sacrifice of Christ himself which likewise began in Mary’s bosom, was publicly confirmed in the arms of Mary, uplifted in the presentation, embraced every moment of his life, and was consummated on Calvary on the cross of Mary’s heart,” he continued.
“So, it is only fitting, my brothers and sisters, that we acknowledge her as our pure mother, … and we thank her for bringing to the master, her son Jesus, our intentions and laying them at his feet knowing that in his perfect will, he denies her nothing.”
Following the Allocutio, Bishop J. Mark Spalding and Father Lopez, followed by other clergy, spiritual directors, active members and auxiliary members one-by-one made their consecration to the Blessed Mother saying, “I am all yours my Queen, my mother, and all that I have is yours.”
After, Father Lopez led the final prayer for the act of consecration.
“Queen of the most holy rosary and tender mother of men, to fulfill the request of the vicar of your son on earth, we consecrate ourselves to you and to your Immaculate Heart, and recommend to you our families, our country, and the whole human race,” he prayed. “Please accept this consecration, dearest mother, and use us as you wish to accomplish your designs upon the world. O Immaculate Heart of Mary, Queen of Heaven and Earth, rule over us and teach us how to make the heart of Jesus rule and triumph in us and around us as it has ruled and triumphed in you. Amen.”
The service ended with the praying of the Catena Legionis, the benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, the divine praises, and the concluding prayer, which included the prayer for the beatification of Frank Duff, founder of the Legion of Mary.
Mary Vozar, who has been a member of the Mary, Mother of the Church praesidium at Immaculate Conception since 2000, said being part of the Legion was a calling.
“I was invited and after the probationary period, it was just something that I knew I had to do, I wanted to do, and I was called to do,” Vozar said. She noted how work and children have affected whether she could be an active member or an auxiliary member, but she appreciated the flexibility.
“It’s nice that the Legion and the Blessed Mother give you that time while making sure you can always be a part of it in some way,” Vozar said.
Reflecting on renewing her consecration at Acies with her fellow Legion Members, she said, “It is a feeling of unity that we are coming together to reconsecrate ourselves to the Blessed Mother and the feeling of her presence, you just know she’s there with you. When active members and auxiliary members come together it renews our bond as Legion members.
“The auxiliary are the prayer warriors for those that are active and do the work,” she continued. “So, when you can come together in kinship and friendship and rekindle that brotherly, sisterly bond, you feel that sense of family.”