By Debbie Shelley

The Catholic Commentator 

Intercessory prayer is like the heart pumping blood to the rest of the body of Christ, the Catholic Church, so it can carry out its Gospel mission, according to Father Andrew Merrick, pastor of Christ the King Church and Student Center at LSU. 

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Attendees of an Our Lady Fighting Tiger’s meeting in early March pray the rosary.  Photo by Debbie Shelley | The Catholic Commentato


Our Lady’s Fighting Tigers provides such a lifeline of prayer support for CTK’s ministry.  

In 2016, the Lord placed on Lisa Flood’s heart the need for an intercessory prayer group for the CTK student ministry. She and Ali Dazzio, CTK parish administrator and development director, approached Father Merrick and the OLFT ministry was born. Its members include family, friends and alumni of Christ the King. 

“Moms, dads, grandparents, aunts, uncles and godparents came out to pray for the ministry,” said Flood. “But as time went on it was clear that God was calling all of us to be deeper in our love, deeper in our faith, deeper in letting him love us so that we can pray (that the students) will become who God is calling them to be. It’s a call in conversion for all of us.”  

In addition to praying over email requests, Our Lady’s Fighting Tigers gather for fellowship, prayer, a speaker presentation, eucharistic adoration and Mass.  

Kay Kenney attended an OLFT meeting in early March, before Gov. John Bel Edwards issued a stay-at-home order because of the coronavirus pandemic, and connected with speaker Kevin McCall’s message about the value of taking a fresh look at one’s prayer life rather than always doing things “the same way.”  

Kenney said she finds the approach especially helpful in praying for CTK and the extended LSU community during the pandemic.  

She appreciates the messages of hope that come along with the prayer intentions in the emails.  

“This time has brought everyone to their knees,” said Kenney, who believes people can use their time during the lockdown to focus on reaching out to others through prayer rather than themselves only.  

Since Kenney reunited with some people she had not seen in some time at the March meeting, she looks forward to the time when OLFT will meet again.  

Virginia Provosty, who graduated from LSU, as did her son, said there was not the dynamic Catholic presence during the times they attended college as there is now. She enjoys praying for needs of Christ the King and the extended campus.  

“I am reminded that God lives beyond time. Our prayers affect present situations and bring about healing and wholeness from past events.  Scripture says (God’s) gifts are irrevocable, thus my prayers and actions in witnessing to others have eternal consequences,” Provosty said.  

She added, “We are given the authority through our baptism to call upon our father in heaven who loves to give his children good things.  We have this time to affect a beautiful change in the atmosphere of LSU’s campus, to claim it for Christ, to take back ground lost to an ungodly culture.  The labor of our prayers will do much to cultivate a lively Catholic presence affecting all future generations. Our Lady wants this, Jesus wants this, and we want what they want.”  

The CTK leadership and staff said the prayers of OLFT have a ripple effect on their outreach efforts.  

“Prayer is essential to the work and ministry of our campus, to the churches throughout the diocese and the universal church,” said Dazzio.  

She described OLFT’s mission as focusing on the salvation of souls.  

“You have to have people praying at the foot of the cross for others,” Dazzio said.  

Father Merrick said intercessory prayer is at the heart of the church’s mission.  

“Our Lady’s Fighting Tigers is a group of people the Lord is raising up in the body of Christ to be the heart pumping his blood into our hands and feet, our eyes and our mouth so we can serve in the way the Lord wants us to serve. It’s an essential aspect of our ministry breaking down walls where there are walls and cultivating the soil so that it’s fertile ground for the Gospel to be planted in. It’s a pure gift to us,” Father Merrick said.