Founded in Dublin, Ireland, on September 7 1921, the Legion of Mary has been present in South Australia since 1934.
Today there are about 20 groups or praesidia, as they are known, in the Adelaide Archdiocese, including the Adelaide Cathedral (Our Lady of Knock) praesidium, and the praesidia are supervised by the Adelaide Comitium.
The praesidia meet once a week in their parish to pray the Rosary and listen to scripture readings and reports by members of the voluntary work they have undertaken.
The Legion is an association of Catholics devoted to Mary and is the largest organisation of lay people involved in apostolic works in the Catholic Church, with more than three million active members worldwide.
Its founder, Frank Duff, joined the St Vincent de Paul Society at the age of 24 and was led to a deeper commitment to his Catholic faith and to the needs of the poor and underprivileged.
Along with a group of Catholic women and Fr Michael Toher, from the Dublin Archdiocese, he formed the first praesidium of the Legion and went on to guide its worldwide expansion.
The Adelaide Cathedral group has seven ‘legionaries’ and a spiritual director, Fr David Thoroughgood, who leads the Rosary and provides spiritual direction.
Prior to the pandemic, the praesidium’s ‘work’ included home visitation and distribution of ‘miraculous medals’; organising and hosting prayer groups in nursing homes; leading the Rosary in the Cathedral after midday Mass throughout the week; giving out Easter and Christmas flyers and distributing the Eucharist to hospital patients.
In addition to active members of the praesidium, there are also auxiliary members who pray the Rosary and support the efforts of the active members through their prayers. The latter are not required to attend meetings.
The miraculous medal owes its origin to the Marian apparitions in the Chapel of the Rue du Bac, Paris, in 1830.
On November 27 1830, the Immaculate Virgin appeared to St Catherine Laboure, Daughter of Charity, and entrusted to her the mission of having a medal struck. Since then, it has been distributed widely, especially to the sick and the frail.
The president of the Adelaide Comitium, Dermott Kelly, said he had been a member of the Legion since 2007. A retired English as a Second Language teacher, he joined the Holy Name Legion before moving to the Cathedral group.
He said legionaries came from diverse backgrounds and parishes.
The Vietnamese community has nine praesidia which form the Our Lady of the Boat People Curia, and the North East Curia has seven praesidia.
Above these curia is the Adelaide Comitium which meets every third Sunday of the month in the hall across from St Peter Claver’s Church, Dulwich. The Adelaide Comitium also manages the curia and praesidia in the Northern Territory where there are five groups.
The Adelaide Comitium answers to the Melbourne Senatus which reports to the Concilium in Ireland.
The centenary celebration will begin with Rosary at 5.15pm on Saturday September 11, followed by Mass in St Francis Xavier’s Cathedral and a five minute promotional talk on the Legion.
The Adelaide Cathedral praesidium meets every Monday at 6.20pm. For more information call Dermott on 0422 562 569 or visit facebook.com/legionofmary/Adelaide.Jump to next article