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New website is building online prayer community

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SAN DIEGO — A new website is creating an online prayer community capable of transcending parish boundaries.

Together in Prayer (togetherinprayer.org) was founded by St. Joseph Cathedral Parish in collaboration with the Catholic communications agency Faith in Marketing.

The user-friendly site, which launched in April, features a “prayer wall” with 12 forums, including Health and Healing, Family and Friends, Career, Spirituality, Quality of Life, Addictions, Repose of the Soul, Legislation, General Needs, and Giving Thanks.

As of Nov. 18, there were 117 individual prayer requests on the site.

Requests address everything from physical healing, to overcoming the emotional pain of a miscarriage, to the conversion of a loved one, to success in a job search. Another set of posts are expressions of gratitude for answered prayers.

Site users are also able to sign up as “prayer warriors.” In that role, they commit to praying regularly, whether daily or weekly, for the online prayer requests.

The site also features a blog with reflections on various spiritual topics.

Together in Prayer was the brainchild of Andy Maduza, a St. Joseph Cathedral parishioner who died from brain cancer this past April. The “Our Mission” section of the website quotes Maduza as saying, “Prayer is powerful. The world and its people need prayer.”

In summer 2018, Maduza approached Dorinamae Cueva, social media director at St. Joseph Cathedral, and she in turn reached out to Thom Hiatt, owner of Faith in Marketing. The trio collaborated on the project, which quickly evolved from an idea for a new section of the cathedral parish’s website to the decision to create an entirely new website.

In April, Cueva said, St. Joseph Cathedral Parish hosted a “launch weekend,” during which the new site was promoted and parishioners were encouraged to register as “prayer warriors.”

But while Together in Prayer’s origins can be traced back to St. Joseph Cathedral, it is not exclusive to members of that parish community.

“It doesn’t belong to us,” said Cueva, who is a moderator on the site. “It started here because it was our parishioner [who proposed it], but it’s its own separate thing” from the parish, and members of other parishes and even nonCatholics are welcome to leave prayer requests there or to serve as “prayer warriors.”

Two additional parishes, St. Michael Parish in Paradise Hills and Mary Star of the Sea Parish in La Jolla, already have decided to join St. Joseph Cathedral in this project.

“Together in Prayer creates an opportunity for a larger community to come together and pray for others in need and in joy,” said Hiatt, whose involvement with the site has continued on a voluntary basis, after initially becoming involved in a professional capacity.

“Since participants can be anonymous, they can request support and prayers for things that might otherwise be difficult or embarrassing in a public setting,” he added. “Despite not really knowing each other, we can pray for others in a very personal way.”

To those who might feel that their need isn’t “big enough” or “urgent enough” to warrant the prayers of others, Cueva said, “There isn’t a prayer request that’s too small, and that’s made obvious … through this website.”

She said she personally replies to and prays for even the so-called “small requests” that she reads on the site.

For Hiatt, receiving and responding to others’ prayers has given him a greater appreciation for other people and their struggles.

“There is something quite powerful about reading a stranger’s prayer requests, and having the opportunity to pray for them and reply to them, in a way that others can see,” he said.

Together in Prayer is an example of the Church utilizing modern communications technology in carrying out its mission. While technology may not be necessary for prayer, it does make it possible for people separated by great geographical distances to share their struggles and spiritually support one another.

“Technology allows us, in this way, to reach out to people who we otherwise wouldn’t be able to talk to or communicate with,” Cueva said. “I think it can bring people together if used properly, if used wisely, and if we allow Christ to be at the center of it.”

Hiatt added, “One thing that will never change is the opportunity for two or more people to gather together in prayer for one another. What can change is how, where and when we get together.”

Looking toward the website’s future, he said, “Within our Diocese of San Diego, I’d like to see a few more parishes share in our passion, to jump on board, and encourage their parish families to use Together in Prayer and truly benefit from it.”

 

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