Jesuit Father Claudio Barriga, who oversees the Apostleship of Prayer from the Jesuit headquarters near the Vatican, said he estimates there are about 50 million people fulfilling the membership requirements in the apostleship and its youth wing, the Eucharistic Youth Movement, by offering their lives to God and praying for the needs of the universal church and the intentions of the pope.
The Jesuit said he was in Vietnam in January and discovered that there are Apostleship of Prayer groups in every diocese with an estimated 1 million involved.
A government-approved bishop in mainland China reported that there is a group of people who makes the offering and prays for the pope’s intentions each day in his cathedral, Fr. Barriga said. The Apostleship of Prayer is responsible for the annual distribution of “the pope’s prayer intentions” for each month.
In the United States, he said, “it’s mainly a digital community” thriving through the use of the website, www.apostleshipofprayer.org, which includes links to a daily audiovisual meditation posted on YouTube and through both national and parish-based Facebook pages.
But it’s also big in remote areas of Angola where many people have never even seen a computer and in Madagascar where about 250,000 young people belong to the Eucharistic Youth Movement, he said.
Barriga said one reason the Jesuits are looking to “re-create” the apostleship is to strengthen the Jesuits’ commitment to it — whether to leading groups personally or virtually over the Internet.
Another reform at which the Jesuits are looking is helping to keep members focused on the big, important “permanent needs” of the church and the world as reflected in the monthly prayer intentions, while also being able to count on millions of people’s prayers when special needs or disasters arise, Barriga said.
Read more about Barriga and the Apostleship for Prayer at U.S. Catholic.