Diocesan News

Apostolate seeks to sanctify ordinary family life

Story by Reagan Scott

LINCOLN (SNR) - In October 2016, Lora and Chance Unger, members of North American Martyrs Parish in Lincoln, started the apostolate “Missionaries of the Holy Spirit in the Family (MHSF).”

Committed “to find Jesus in every possible way,” members of the group are dedicated to sanctifying ordinary family life.  

Chance Unger said he felt called to start an apostolate about a year before he and Lora launched the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit in the Family. But, after the miscarriage of their second child, the two formed the organization after what Chance Unger described as, “an intense call from the Holy Spirit to take action now.”

“There’s a call for the laity to really step up and be bold about their faith and vocation,” he said. 

The mission of MHSF is to ignite the bond that knits families together to sanctify the domestic church. Members of the organization do this through formation and spiritual training with the help of the Holy Spirit. 

In its first year of existence, the Missionaries really worked to develop the mission of the apostolate and its pillars—vulnerability, family prayer, the Eucharist, sanctifying the ordinary, gift of self, discovery and mercy. 

Currently, the MHSF is comprised of two Lincoln-based chapters. The original, the one founded in 2016, is capped at 12 couples. The second, which was formed in March, has 10 couples with others going through the discernment process. 

The decision to cap each group at 12 couples was made for both logistical and spiritual reasons. A smaller group size means that everyone in the group gets to know one another better, and the number 12 appears repeatedly in the Scriptures.

Each chapter meets once a month for dinner, group spiritual direction led by a priest, and Eucharistic Adoration and confession. 

“Each meeting involves the building up of [the couples’] spiritual toolbox, talking about spiritual discernment, the discernment of our different charisms (gifts of the Holy Spirit) and learning how to discern the call of the Holy Spirit better as an individual and family,” Lora Unger said. 

Since the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit in the family was founded, both Lora and Chance Unger said they have seen many benefits come from the apostolate. 

Chance Unger said, “I have seen a lot of really remarkable praying over spouses and praying for healing, both spiritual and physical. Members who have had physical ailments have experienced real healing.” 

Lora Unger has enjoyed the supportive friendships and seeing the groups become closer as all of the members help each other to grow in their spiritual lives. 

“We can’t grow holy on our own island,” she said. “We really need each other. I have seen the power in our prayer and God’s healing through prayer.”

While the apostolate is still growing, the Ungers know that God has a plan for further growth in the organization. 

“We are allowing the Spirit to bring [the apostolate] in whatever direction He wants to bring it,” Lora Unger said. “Through prayer, He keeps bringing us more and more people.” 

While the couple is excited to see the organization continue to grow, they encourage interested couples to carefully discern whether the Holy Spirit is calling them to this ministry.

“If there is an initial interest and peace after they’ve prayed about this specific apostolate, they can check out our website,” Chance Unger said. The website for the organization is missionariesoftheholyspiritinthefamily.org

Once a couple expresses interest, they meet with members of one of the chapters who help them to discern further. While each chapter meets in Lincoln, individuals need not live in Lincoln, or even be part of the Lincoln Diocese. 

As their apostolate continues to grow, the Ungers feel blessed to have received this “call within a call,” the chance to do God’s will in their vocation of marriage.

Chance Unger said, “We feel unworthy to be doing what we do, but at the same time feel like we possess a special gift that God wants for us to give to the Church to help sanctify marriage and family life.”

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