Worldwide Cancer Prayer Day was observed at Elmira’s Our Lady of Lourdes Church with a special morning service Friday, June 4.
Approximately 35 people — including many from a newly formed prayer group — gathered to offer prayers to St. Peregrine, patron saint of cancer patients. Father Jeremiah Moynihan, the parish’s pastor, then offered Benediction. Finally, participants were invited to write in a prayer book the names of people affected by cancer.
“They filled up two pages,” said Our Lady of Lourdes parishioner Ann Irwin, who coordinated the event. Irwin said the parish has noted Worldwide Cancer Prayer Day for several years, often marking past observances with an anointing of the sick.
In addition to the once-a-year gathering, the cancer support prayer group meets every first Friday at Our Lady of Lourdes. Irwin said all are invited to the meetings at 10:30 a.m. in the parish office building, located on Demarest Parkway off West Church Street. The next meeting will take place Aug. 6. Anyone seeking more information may contact Irwin at 607/732-2918.
Anyone who is touched by the disease — either as a patient or through a loved one — is welcome. At each meeting participants offer a novena to St. Peregrine as well as prayers for people who were recently diagnosed with cancer. Finally, intentions are again written in the prayer book. Irwin said 10 to 12 people attend regularly, and hopes that some who took part in Worldwide Cancer Prayer Day will consider joining the group as well.
“There’s an element of support there, especially for family members who are praying for loved ones,” Irwin said. “It’s one thing to pray by yourself, but when you come together with others to pray, you realize you are not alone.”
Irwin founded the group last fall after having endured two bouts with breast cancer; she was diagnosed in 1997 and 2003 but is now cancer-free. She said that the power of prayer was a major factor in her recoveries.
“Prayer can lead to healing and I’m living proof of that … people who see me know that not everyone dies when they have cancer,” she said. “I believe I had many, many people praying for me — people I don’t even know. I always felt I could feel the prayers. It was also a way to turn something very negative into something quite positive.”