Three women individually share in a very important mission centered around one very powerful word: PRAY! Each armed with the knowledge that prayer is a powerful weapon, their one desire is to create unity and hope in the midst of all of the hurt, pain and division plaguing our world, by reminding others to pray.
When Norma Flores, a parishioner at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, Hebbronville, visited her son in Corpus Christi at the start of the pandemic, she noticed red and white yard signs with the word “Pray.” Observing an increased number of signs during subsequent trips to Corpus, Norma, along with two of her closest friends, Dora Ramirez and Gloria Garza, began to consider how they could help their church and community by bringing the idea to Hebbronville. The support was overwhelming! The first order of 200 signs sold out within 5 days; and to date, 780 have been sold. All proceeds have benefited Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, a parish within the Diocese of Laredo.
The prayer signs were the original idea of Margaret Perez, owner of Bertha Academy—a daycare in Corpus Christi. When COVID-19 was ravaging New York, Margaret felt helpless watching the news which featured a nurse from New York. She wanted nothing more than to be able to comfort the nurse who was hunched over with her head hung low in despair and exhaustion after working an 18-hour shift. When Margaret cried out to God asking how she could possibly help the nurse, she heard God tell her to “Pray; and get others to pray.”
Soon after, Margaret designed and ordered 50 yard signs to share with family and parents of the children from her daycare—little did she know how many people would contact her to request a sign for their yard. Margaret’s goal is simple: “My hope is that when you are driving, and you see this red sign, in that instant, you say, ‘Lord we need you. That’s it. . .. Lord, be with us. . .. Lord, get us through this. Because it’s not just Corpus Christi, it’s the entire world. We’ve lost more than a million and a half people (globally in this pandemic).”
In spite of her business suffering financially, Margaret has persevered in printing signs, using all donations given to purchase more signs. She has distributed 4,000 to date. While speaking with Margaret, she mentioned that she has family in Laredo; and she generously offered to donate 150 signs to Laredoans.
Sylvia Perez, another resident in Corpus Christi (no relation to Margaret) took special note of Margaret’s effort: “I saw it (a post with the prayer sign) on Facebook, and I thought ‘Oh how beautiful! We need prayers.’” After speaking with her husband, the two added a dove, representing the Holy Spirit, to the original design and made signs available for a small donation which benefited their church, Most Precious Blood Catholic Church in Corpus Christi. They were placing orders of 500-1000 signs every two weeks, which they would leave outside of their home near a Divine Mercy statue and some devotional cards—for people to take (free of charge)—with a Litany to the Divine Mercy. The couple trusted that people in the community would leave cash donations in a mail drop-box for any signs they picked up. “God was with me all the way. I just give Him all the glory,” Sylvia proclaimed.
The same sentiment is shared by Norma, who is grateful for the team of people God brought together to make the signs available in Hebbronville. In addition to her friends, Dora and Gloria, Michelle Perez and Elsa Garza, secretary and bookkeeper, respectively, at the church, assisted, as well as Juan Carlos Guerra, President of the Jamaica Committee. Fr. Evencio Herrera, OFM, pastor of the church was eager to support the endeavor which he believed would help bring the whole community together.
Indeed, many in Hebbronville have embraced the idea, and Norma has even seen signs in nearby communities including Encinal and Falfurrias. The simple message, “Pray,” is a “perfect way to show unity,” Norma shared. “I don’t care if you are Baptist or Methodist. We each have our own way of praying; the idea is for all of us to pray. So many people have lost so much. During these dark and uncertain times we face, this simple effort is a way of reminding people to turn to God. Don’t lose faith. Don’t lose hope. God will answer,” she assures.
***The Hebbronville team is looking for someone else willing to continue the work they began to further inspire and bring together the community. Anyone interested should contact Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, Hebbronville.
***If you reside in Laredo and would like one of the signs provided by Margaret, please email Melissa at MPici75@gmail.com.
"PRAY" signs bring a glimmer of hope.