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SYRACUSE, N.Y. (ChurchMilitant.com) - A Catholic family in the United States is making it their grand mission to inspire everyone in the world to wear Our Lady's brown scapular and receive the wonderful protection it offers.
The Scapular Apostolate, founded three years ago in the diocese of Syracuse, N.Y., is currently hand-making and distributing scapulars to as many people as possible all over the world. But its goal, "to place a scapular around every shoulder," is to tap a one-of-a-kind scapular-making machine to achieve it.
One of the movers behind the apostolate's lofty goal is Timothy Schultz, who explained why the undertaking is so important to his family. He tells Church Militant:
The devil has worked hard to make the Brown Scapular nearly nonexistent among Catholics worldwide, and that is because it is so powerful. In fact, it is arguably the most powerful sacramental the Church has to offer, because it is the only one that promises eternal salvation. Our world is very dark, and devotion to the Blessed Mother has waned greatly. We want to bring devotion back to Our Mother and help her save souls.
Schultz, now in his 30s, said the seed for the Scapular Apostolate was planted early in his life.
"I am the youngest of 13. My parents always stressed the importance of the daily Rosary and wearing the Brown Scapular," he said. "I have two brothers who are priests and one sister who is a Dominican nun. Because of our parents' example, we all have a strong devotion to the Mother of God."
Schultz relates to Church Militant how the apostolate realized that hand-making scapulars, while keeping the price affordable, did not suit the goal of distributing scapulars all over the world.
The realization occurred, he said, when his brother, Fr. James Schultz, was enrolling a large group of women into the Confraternity of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. The priest had 200 women in front of him about to be enrolled, and even with the least expensive scapulars, costing $4.50 each, he saw a whopping $900 was needed for the job.
During the COVID lockdown, Fr. James had more time to keep his hands and those of some volunteers busy making large numbers of scapulars, but not enough to meet the growing need. So it dawned on the priest that acquiring a fully automated machine could make millions of scapulars efficiently and cost-effectively, and people around the world could receive the sacramental.
The challenge was, however, where the family could find such a machine. He said they contacted "many Carmelite monasteries and countless sewing and manufacturing companies" to no avail. Undaunted, the family interviewed multiple engineers, eventually deciding an engineer in Finland, Stefan Hamminga, is "the best, most qualified for the job."
"Our goal is eventually to have multiple machines in the U.S. and throughout the world," Schultz said. "Our dream goal is to provide free scapulars to whoever wants one, even if it is the whole world!"
Schultz said the apostolate has already raised over $125,000 toward funding the machine, which he anticipates will be finished by September. "But," he says, "we still need about another $125K–150K."
He directs anyone interested in helping to fund the machine to visit the apostolate website for instructions on how to make a tax-deductible contribution.
Whether it is to join the Scapular Apostolate community, buy scapulars or contribute to the one-of-a-kind scapular-making machine, Schultz makes this appeal: "We all have a baptismal obligation to work for the salvation of souls. Our Lady promises eternal salvation for those who wear the scapular devoutly. Will you come and aid us in this mission? Will you help Our Mother save souls?"
Our Lady appeared to Simon. She was dressed in the brown habit of the Carmelite order and holding her Infant Son. She extended the scapular of the Carmelite order to Simon, saying, "Receive, my beloved son, this scapular. Whosoever dies wearing this scapular shall not suffer eternal fire. ... It shall be a sign of salvation, a protection in danger and a pledge of peace."
Throughout his life, he is said to have carried with him a passionate devotion to Our Lady, praying earnestly to her and composing verses in her honor, one stanza of which reads:
Our way, uncertain, surrounded by foes,
unfailing counsel you offer to those
who turn to thee.
A century later, Pope John XXII saw a vision of Our Lady during which she made another promise to those who wore her scapular faithfully, practiced chastity according to their state in life, and said certain prayers known as the "Little Office." She promised: "I, the Mother of Grace, shall descend on the Saturday after their death, and whomsoever I shall find in purgatory, I shall free."
Venerable Sr. Lúcia, years after Mary appeared to her and her young cousins in Fatima in 1917, recalled that she appeared as Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, holding the brown scapular in her hand. Lúcia said the apparition shows that "Our Lady wants all to wear the scapular as their sign of consecration to her Immaculate Heart."
Shultz said he is especially encouraged in his work when he reflects on the words of Pope Benedict XV (1854-1922): "Let all of you have a common language and a common armor: the language, the sentences of the Gospel; the armor, the Scapular of the Virgin of Carmel, which you all ought to wear and which enjoys the singular privilege of protection even after death."
He summed up his motivation to evangelize the world through the scapular, telling Church Militant:
The promises are too great for this devotion to be forgotten, and we need peace, protection in times of danger, and eternal salvation — the three promises of the Brown Scapular. Children need to be clothed in Our Lady's habit, and parents should want their children protected by the Mother of God. The Brown Scapular is a universal call for all Catholics. We can all be a part of Our Lady's mission and, in so doing, save countless souls as well as our own.
As a final nudge, Schultz said, "Any priest can give someone a scapular and enroll them in the Confraternity of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel — just ask them if they don't ask you!"