Wayne Ringer keeps getting himself into things. He lives in the Diocese of Lincoln, NE, led by Bishop James Conley, who also keeps getting into things.
Wayne and other Regnum Christi members in Lincoln seem to be the “go to” people when the bishop needs something done: “Anything you need, we’re there for you,” Wayne said.
Sometimes the bishop needs something relatively little, like his request during a Newman Center event hosted by Regnum Christi members, when he asked them for19,000 Miraculous Medals for all the Catholic school students and CCD kids in the diocese.
Sometimes the bishop needs help with something bigger. He called on RC members to organize the March 27, 2018, Eucharistic procession around the Planned Parenthood officer in Lincoln. Regnum Christi member Mike Davis spearheaded the effort – in less than three weeks.
Sometimes the bishop needs help for something huge. As a result, Wayne finds himself helping to coordinate the Eucharistic Family Rosary Crusade.
Bishop Conley got the idea for the Crusade from the Diocese of Spokane, where it had been highly successful. The Crusades have been held in in numerous cities and foreign countries. The program was developed by the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity (SOLT). And it turns out that the priest leading this particular apostolate is Fr. James Kelleher, SOLT, a friend of Bishop Conley’s from their days studying in Rome.
The Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity (SOLT) was founded in 1958, by Fr. James Flanagan in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, NM. Currently, SOLT has missions in 12 countries where members “live as disciples of Jesus through Mary in Marian-Trinitarian communion on Ecclesial Family Teams in areas of deepest apostolic need.”
The Crusade has three phases, all designed to bring people into a closer relationship with Mary and Christ. Phase one includes talks in parishes and schools, and gatherings in homes: for men, Saints on Tap; for women, Vino et Veritas. Wayne created a library of study guides and videos for use in these sessions, drawing liberally from Regnum Christi meditations and materials.
The goal of phase one is for people to make a daily rosary commitment. For “experienced” rosary reciters, this would mean a full rosary a day. For those new to this form of prayer, perhaps a decade a day would be enough to start.
“The Crusade is easy to understand and extremely practical,” Wayne said. “And you see in how we have it organized a good deal of Regnum Christi methodology.”
But to organize the program in every parish – 136 in Diocese of Lincoln – requires time and lots of work, all volunteer. Wayne has a volunteer coordinator in each parish; nearly all are men.
“We intentionally recruited men into these positions, and not because women would not have done the job as well – maybe better,” Wayne explained. “But we believe men need the experience of being leaders in the parish, stepping up and being faith leaders in their families.
“Look in the pews and you’ll see more women than men,” Wayne said. “But we know that children are more likely to hold onto their faith if the father is a strong and participating Catholic.
The parish effort seems to be working. Twenty percent of the diocese – about 4,500 families – already have made a daily rosary commitment.
Wayne and the other organizers will need an army of participants, because they have huge plans.
Phase one of the Crusade peaks with the Husker Catholic Candle-Lit Rosary on April 29, 2018. Picture this: More than 3,000 Catholics form a human circle around the entire University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus and pray the rosary together while holding lighted candles.
“Yes, we had to buy a parade permit,” Wayne said. “And I’m sure there will be counter-demonstrators, but you just come to expect that. We hope the event will draw positive attention to the faith, maybe even national media.”
Then it will be on to phase two, which has a goal of people committing to a weekly or bi-weekly hour of adoration. As in the first phase, there will be Sunday talks in parishes. (And more Saints on Tap – and Vino for the ladies.)
Phase two will climax with a Eucharistic Procession around the state capitol building, led by Bishop Conley, on November 4, 2018. The preparation period for consecration to Jesus through Mary starts the following day and culminates on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8.
Phase three – tentative until phase one is complete – is where things get really huge. It will include efforts to increase the number of parishes that have perpetual adoration – and increase the hours of adoration in smaller parishes. To encourage frequent confession, a Sunday will be picked for all the homilies in the diocese to talk about the benefits of confession.
And then there will be the “stadium event.” That is scheduled for May 5, 2019, with a Global Living Rosary (rosary in many languages) and Eucharistic Adoration let by Bishop Conley and Fr. Kelleher from SOLT. And yes, the stadium event will be held in a really big football stadium, one of which Lincoln most certainly has.
“It’s a big program, but think of the advantage the bishop has by coming to Regnum Christi for help,” Wayne said. “We already have a strong organization and many of the parish coordinators for the Crusade are RC members.”
On the family side, Wayne and Mary Ringer will celebrate their 20th anniversary this year. They have seven children – four daughters and three sons – kindergarten through high school senior. All three boys attend Sacred Heart Apostolic School in Indiana.
Wayne, who spent some time in seminary discerning a vocation to the priesthood, gives credit to several people for his commitment to the Catholic faith, as well as his apostolic zeal:
- Msgr. Leonard Kalin, the late head of the Newman Center in Lincoln, who was critical as a director and role model to Wayne in his youth.
- Regnum Christi, especially Fr. Daniel Polzer, LC, who laid the foundation for Regnum Christi in Lincoln.
- Msgr. Mark Huber, pastor of St. Mary’s, the Ringer’s parish in Denton, NE.
- Herb Reese, RC leader in Lincoln, who heads the Lincoln Leadership Camp for boys.
“Herb has been a real mentor and was apostolically engaged long before I was,” Wayne said. “We have in Herb a real Catholic leader who believes in the mission of the Church. And it rubs off on others.
“I’m convinced the way to a man’s heart is to ask him to do something. It doesn’t have to be big, but it has to be active and help others. The apostolate is important to men; you have to get them involved. That’s one of the benefits of the Rosary Crusade – getting many men involved and living out their faith.”