By Tracey Primrose
May 11, 2017 — Prayer is the “sea of the boundless love of God,” says Pope Francis, and one of the most important ways the Holy Father communicates his prayer intentions is through The Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network (PWPN).
Founded as the Apostleship of Prayer and recently renamed by Pope Francis, the network communicates the pope’s monthly intentions to 50 million members in 89 countries, seeking to mobilize people in prayer and action. Its youth branch, the Eucharistic Youth Movement (EYM), is present in 56 countries.
In the United States, the group has been led by its long-serving national director, Fr. James Kubicki, SJ; next month the mantle will be handed over to Fr. William Blazek, SJ.
PWPN traces its roots to France, where in 1844 a group of Jesuit seminarians, anxious to hurry their studies so they could set out as missionaries, were instructed by their spiritual director to use their time and talents for the salvation of souls as “apostles of prayer.” In 1879, the group received its first statutes, approved by Pope Pius IX. From the beginning, the Apostleship of Prayer, also devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, has been entrusted by the pope to the Jesuits.
In recent years, Fr. Kubicki is credited with helping the PWPN broaden its outreach through digital communications and his support for innovative programs, such as the Hearts on Fire retreats, which target young adults.
Fr. James Kubicki, SJ, outgoing national director of the PWPN
Father Timothy Kesicki, SJ, president of the Jesuit Conference, the organization that represents the Society of Jesus in Canada and the United States, said, “I wish to express my deep gratitude to Fr. Kubicki for his 14 years of service. He has worked tirelessly and with great zeal to promote the PWPN throughout the country. Among his many creative contributions was the encouragement and support of Jesuits in formation offering ‘Hearts on Fire’ missions in parishes, a deeply formative experience for some of our men who will be ordained this year.”
The appointment of Fr. Blazek was made by Fr. Frédéric Fornos, SJ, PWPN’s international director, headquartered in Rome. Father Blazek will work from the US headquarters in Milwaukee and will simultaneously serve as the organization’s North American coordinator.
Fr. Frédéric Fornos, SJ, PWPN’s international director, greets Pope Francis during a centenary celebration for the Eucharistic Youth Movement in 2015.
Currently an associate director at the Manresa House of Retreats in Convent, La., Fr. Blazek served as an infantry officer for five years in Iraq before attending medical school and becoming a doctor. After many years of discerning a vocation, he entered the Jesuits in 2001 and was ordained to the priesthood in 2012.
Membership in the PWPN, which is available online, involves “a commitment to offer yourself to God for his purposes each day.” In May, the pope’s prayer intentions are for Christians in Africa and for priestly vocations.Last year, the PWPN launched “Click to Pray,” an app available in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, and German. Click to Pray offers users a digital way to accompany Pope Francis in his prayer intentions.