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placeholder MAY 6, 2013   •   VOL. 51, NO. 9   •   Oakland, CA
Meeting the Prayer Challenge

Need help praying? Imagine the encouragement of emails from six prayer partners popping up in your inbox.

There is strength in the message line "I Do Believe."

That was the experience of the Prayer Challenge, conducted during Lent by 255 people under the direction of Denise Clark, a parishioner at St. Isidore Church in Danville who not only recently completed the master catechist program of the Diocese of Oakland but is a trained pastoral minister.

Witness on Fire
with David Kauffman

Featuring: St. Isidore's children, teen and adult choirs
May 16, 7-8:30 p.m.
St. Isidore Church,
440 La Gonda Way, Danville
General admission: Suggested minimum donation is $10 per ticket. Free tickets available.
Buy tickets:
Reception: Follows in ministry building
At a Lenten mission, she spoke at each Mass at her parish and another one in San Leandro, giving personal testimony on how prayer has helped her through more than 40 years of dealing with autoimmune diseases, several near death sentences and miraculous healing.

"My testimony struck a chord with both adults and children," she said. "I spoke to many, encouraging them to believe in the power of the Holy Spirit."

She invited people from her parish, and other parishes she visited, to participate in the Prayer Challenge. Some people heard about it through word of mouth, or keyboard. She divided the participants into circles of seven.

A long-distance request came from New Jersey. She added that person to her own online group, which included her longtime faith-sharing group that meets each Lent at the Catholic Community of Pleasanton.

Clark said she set out to create a forum that would allow small faith groups to share in weekly prayer challenges "so we could grow in our personal relationship with Jesus."

"The beauty was that there was no meeting time that burdened our calendars but we could connect with others in our group anytime, day or night, Clark said.

The challenge continued for seven weeks, with each one written by Clark.

"Like all good liturgies, it needs a good conclusion," Clark said.

To celebrate the conclusion of the challenge, a concert featuring Texas-based musician and composer David Kaufmann is being held May 16 at St. Isidore Church in Danville. The parish children's, teen and adult choirs will also be featured in the 90-minute program.

The concert and reception following it will be an opportunity for the prayer partners — many of whom have never met in person — to see each other face to face.

Clark has conducted the Prayer Challenge twice, watching its growth from 50 people initially at St. Isidore last fall to 255 in Lent.

At the conclusion, she invited the members of her own circle to do something special for their long-distance prayer partner, who has cancer. She was in the process of packing a box with good wishes, books and prayer cards to send east when this thought struck her: "Yes, this is what we're supposed to be doing all along."

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