Never underestimate the power of prayer.
That is exactly the underlying lesson Adam Marquart learned from his parents Greg and Lisa Marquart, and was echoed by his Catholic school teachers and several significant priests in his life. It is the lesson that motivated Marquart’s idea for the Confraternity of St. Nicholas – a movement to seek the saint’s intercession to protect all children morally, physically, and spiritually from sexual abuse, human trafficking, and other harmful circumstances.
Marquart, a member of Our Lady of Peace Parish in the Marshall County section of Wheeling, grew up with his sister Natalie in a loving home.
“We always had dinner as a family, and my parents would always ask me questions about my day and how school was,” he said. “(My parents) gave me a solid foundation of faith, reason, and compassion for others. In this ever-changing world, having this foundation has been crucial to the progression of my studies, friendships, and relationship with God. I love my family, for my family is where I first learned how to love.”
It was when he was a high school student at Wheeling Park, when Marquart became keenly aware of child abuse.
“I became so concerned,” he said. “I emersed myself into becoming more aware of the issues and out of that came this growing need to do something. What I learned about was so far from my own reality, but it is the reality of so many – horrible realities that our world has accepted and tolerated. It’s unbelievable. What on earth could I do? We’ve become numb to it as a society.
“Saint Maximilian Kolbe said, ‘The most deadly poison of our times is indifference.’ Our lack of concern is sickening,” Marquart said. “I knew in my heart I needed to do something, but what? I do a pretty good job at being pro-life, but I hadn’t considered this pro-life, yet it is. I wasn’t doing enough. We are not doing enough. Then I thought who better to turn to than St. Nicholas.”
Marquart became consumed with his good intention, which led him to the idea of a prayer group specifically dedicated to praying for children. With the help of Fr. Brian Crenwelge of St. John University Parish, where Marquart attends as a student at West Virginia University, he was able to design the Confraternity of St. Nicholas. Soon after he met with Bishop Mark Brennan at the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston’s Chancery to propose the program.
“Bishop Brennan shared a time as a pastor, when he encountered a young woman who had been abused, and after sharing the story, he said something I’ll never forget: ‘Everyday our world shows more and more that it needs a Savior,’” Marquart said. “(Bishop Brennan) went on to say that child abuse and associated issues are ultimately a spiritual problem which requires a spiritual solution.”
A few weeks later Bishop Brennan approved the confraternity. In a letter the bishop sent to pastors and the faithful he said, “As Bishop St. Nicholas defended Christ’s divinity against those who denied it, we implore his prayers to defend children and young people from all attacks on their moral and spiritual well-being. Joining the Confraternity of St. Nicholas is a providential way to participate in the prayers offered to this saint for that purpose.”
Since it was established less than a month ago there are already more than 90 members. While the majority are from the diocese in West Virginia, there are also members from the dioceses of Steubenville, Youngstown, and Pittsburgh, St. Mary’s Seminary, and Eastern Catholic churches in the tri-state.
Bishop Brennan was not only impressed with the confraternity, but also the resolve of Marquart who is still a teenager.
If you are lucky enough to spend time with Marquart you will most likely walk away with the sense that he is mature beyond his years – an old soul some may say.
“God gifted me with so many wonderful people in my life and all have entertained my strong curiosity about my faith and my urge to learn more,” he said.
In grade school at Our Lady of Peace, Marquart said it was Fr. Dennis Schuelkens, “who patiently would answer all of my spiritual questions and natural doubts in a thoughtful and substantial way.”
He considers Fr. Martin Smay his spiritual director.
“Fr. Smay introduced me to the writings of St. Alphonsus Liguori, who has motivated me to intensify my spiritual life. When you read some of his sermons about getting to heaven you realize it isn’t easy to get there. We all can do a better job to save our soul and the souls of others.”
He said he has an affirmation go-to prayer he learned from Fr. Jason Charron of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in Wheeling that keeps him grounded in times of anxiety or concern. It is the Jesus Prayer or the prayer of the heart, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.”
“I’m certain there won’t be a point in my life I won’t need His mercy,” he said.
Marquart said we all need to be committed to prayer and learning about our faith, and when we do, we can be part of a spiritual solution to the issues around us.
“For me I know that whatever is going on, whatever problem I have or problem the people I care about are burdened with, I know I can rest in Christ, and He will take care of it,” the sophomore finance major said. “The world and society try to tell us or sell us that they have the answers, but God is truly the answer.”
Resources to stay focused on Christ and grow in faith are all round, Marquart said, “many are in the palm of your hand” through apps, podcasts, and blogs. A favorite app of his is CatenaBible, it connects scripture verses with commentaries from saints. A podcast/blog he likes is Pints with Aquinas, which invites Catholic influencers (religious, authors, priests, etc.) to talk about various topics in the Church.
Whether your Catholic mindset is traditional or contemporary or something in between our Church is so large it is our own fault if we cannot enrich our spirit, he said. “We need to learn more. We need to pray more so we don’t become insensitive to the evils in society.”
To learn more about the Confraternity and become a member visit the Confraternity’s website: https://dwc.org/evangelization-and-catechesis/confraternity-of-st-nicholas