August 07, 2019
At last year's Foundation of Faith Dinner, Gigi Gregory bid on a package to tour the Historic Missions with Fr. Mike Lewis and Deacon Iván Montelongo, both studying at Mundelein Seminary and ordained in May, 2019. It appealed to her because she is a Third Order Secular Franciscan—Fr. John Stowe, now the Bishop of Lexington, Kentucky, presided at Gigi's Profession at San Elizario Mission 11 years ago—and because she thought it would be a wonderful way to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the prayer group she founded and celebrate the birthday of one of their members.
The Diocese of El Paso is home to three of the oldest historic missions in the United States: Ysleta, Socorro and San Elizario Missions. All three missions are Texas Historic Sites, included in the National Register of Historic Places. There was no one better to lead the tour than Fr. Mike Lewis, newly ordained to the Priesthood, and Deacon Iván Montelongo, experts on El Paso' Catholic history in their own right. In 2016, the men were awarded the Monsignor John Canary Theological Enrichment Fund grant to research the history of the first churches in what is now the Diocese of El Paso, and the life of the first priests to minister there. After the tour, Gigi shared that Fr. Mike and Deacon Iván, who generously donated the package and gave of their time to raise funds for the Seminarian Education Endowment Fund, made the pilgrimage to the Missions a memorable and profound experience. "We don't really know how rich our culture and religious background is. The tour enlightened us about the history of the Catholic faith and the treasures right here in our community."
Eleven years ago, Gigi heard the call from God to "get together a prayer group." Gigi says she "had a yearning in her heart to pray for her family" but ignored His message for a full year before she took the leap of faith and formed the group. She gathered a group of women and told them they would get together every Monday to pray. Not for a month or even a year, but forever. Years spent praying around a kitchen table gave birth to their name PKT Sisters for the Praying Kitchen Table Sisters.
For five years, LuAnn Amie (PKT Secretary), Kathy Santos (PKT Artist), Gigi Gregory (PKT Founder), Maureen de la Rosa (PKT Theologian), Mary Ellen Vega (PKT Walking Encyclopedia), and Loretta Casillas (PKT VP), all parishioners at St. Raphael, met around Gigi's kitchen table to pray. At that point, the women collectively decided they would alternate houses so that each of their homes would receive the blessings of their meetings and prayers. It's not just a prayer group, it's a close group of friends and sisters in Christ, and this dedicated time of prayer is a calling from God. The PKT Sisters meet every Monday morning and pray for two hours, sometimes three if the Lord puts something in their hands to focus on. They share their lives with each other and regularly text during the week with prayer requests for others. The time together is sacred.
The PKT Sisters are also treasures. Every Monday, even during the most difficult times in our community and for the women themselves, this prayer group gathers and offers their intentions and their service up to God. It's a simple act of coming together but it's a great story of love, faith and resurrection. God invites us to listen and when Gigi reflects on answering God's call to bring together special women to form a prayer group, she expresses joy and deep gratitude. "God has taken me on an incredible journey."
Photo Credit: Maureen de la Rosa and El Paso Mission Trail