A Campus of Prayer

by Tori Murphy ’19

Clicking this button at the bottom of an email is quick, effective, and for the past
30 years at Saint Mary’s, life-changing.

Business Professor Emeritus Richard Measell felt a calling to share his faith with the greater Saint Mary’s community. A man of deep faith, Measell had been part of a prayer request email chain at his church in the ’90s, and he had noticed the impact this simple communication had on his day. After reflecting on the idea of establishing a similar email chain at Saint Mary’s, he asked the age-old question: why not? “I knew people in our College community had struggles, and I thought that providing a way to go to God with them collectively would be good,” said Measell.

Measell explained he hasn’t always felt this spiritually connected. “I was pretty distant from God in my youth, but I wouldn’t say God was distant from me.” After becoming a member of Granger Community Church in the mid-1980s, then joining Saint Mary’s as a faculty member in 1983, Measell noticed his faith was growing stronger. He knew that with the prayer team, he would find like-minded community members.

After approaching Campus Ministry with the idea, Measell’s hope for a prayer team connected through a shared purpose—and a common distribution list—was approved. He sent the first email soon after. Saint Mary’s faculty and staff members joined, and their number grew by word of mouth. Some simply wanted to pray alongside others in the group, others brought the prayers and concerns of members of the community to share.

Even after Measell announced his retirement in 2015, he continued to lead the email chain until 2021. When he began searching for a dedicated and willing member to carry on the team’s mission, Mona Bowe answered the call. “When Mona stepped forward, I thought, ‘Yeah, she’s the perfect person,’” said Measell. “God provided.”

Care, Connection, and Confidentiality

Bowe, executive director of retention strategies, was introduced to the prayer team a few years after arriving at Saint Mary’s in 1995. Upon receiving a breast cancer diagnosis in 1999, Bowe was approached by a prayer team member who asked if she would like the team to pray for her. Not only did she say yes, but she also joined the team. Bowe was from Mexico and didn’t have a lot of family close by. Through the prayer team, she found a support group, and the College community became her family. “I got through it all because I had the support. I knew there were people praying for me. So when I joined the group, I continued to be faithful and made sure people knew I was there for them.”

Hearing that Measell needed someone to step in and assume his responsibilities on the team, Bowe was more than happy to carry on his legacy. “When Richard asked, I remembered how much it meant to me when I was sick, and when I lost both my parents,” Bowe remembers. “Saint Mary’s is a great place to work for many reasons, but that sense of the faith and support
that comes with it—you can’t put that into words.”

Bowe described the prayer team’s process, saying, “It’s very simple.” At the beginning of each semester, Bowe sends an invitation by email to all faculty and staff members that explains the nature of the group. The final distribution list is private, composed of a group of employees, often called “prayer warriors,” who support the community through prayer requests, prayers, and encouragement.

Prayer requests are either sent directly to Bowe or forwarded to the larger team as individual members become aware of a need. Prayer requests can be made for any reason, but often they are on behalf of current students and employees, alumnae, retirees, and their families. And when a prayer request is sent, individuals are assured their information will be protected. Bowe explains, “Permission from the individual in need of prayer is always required, and we never share a request unless they agree it is okay.” She adds that respect for all religions is central to the prayer group’s work, just as Measell had intended it to be at the outset.

“Some prayer requests come in, and they’re really vague. Some can be very specific. We will send out the prayer no matter how much detail we are given,” says Bowe.

Thirty Years of Prayers

Being a part of the prayer team does not mean you’re required to engage. “Some members always respond right away, telling us they are on it. Others have never responded. But I know that if they signed up, it’s because they want to participate in prayer,” she believes.

Bowe has been involved in this work for so long now that she has begun to have the experience of some prayer requests returning back to the group’s care and concern for a new generation. Twenty years ago, the prayer team was praying for a student. Now they find themselves praying for that same alumna’s daughters who have become Saint Mary’s students themselves. “The Saint Mary’s family continues to evolve, which is why maintaining the team is so important,” says Bowe.

Just like Measell, Bowe sees the team continuing long after her. “I think it will continue because the need is there and the community cares about each other,” she says. “We can always find tangible ways to help, but this is something so specific to Saint Mary’s. It reflects who we are as a community: we meet every need from physical to spiritual.”

Saint Mary’s provides a number of resources for students and staff to offer prayers and petitions, including a book of intentions that sits in the main lobby of Le Mans Hall. But Bowe said it is the prayer team’s ability to be accessible to every employee—wherever they may be on campus—that differentiates their service to the College community: all that is required is to hit “send.”

“Being able to offer prayers to our faculty and staff in a way that’s really easy to do is so important,” says Bowe.

If you work for the College and would like to become a part of the prayer team, email Mona Bowe at mbowe@saintmarys.edu

More Courier Spring 2023