- (PHOTO: REUTERS/Tim Shaffer)
A call for prayer for the late Penn State football coach Joe Paterno was announced Wednesday by a new national prayer website promoting spiritual growth and faith.
Circle of Prayers added the "Memory of Joe Paterno" to the more than dozen prayer topics on its site, including "Victims of Virginia Tech Mayhem" and "America's Voters to make informed, just, moral decisions."
Leaders at the organization encouraged believers to take a moment and offer a prayer for Paterno, who recently died of complications from lung cancer at the age of 85. He left behind a mixed legacy after months of controversy involving his long-time assistant coach Jerry Sandusky's child abuse scandal.
"Personally, I always had fond impressions of Paterno and thought the topic would be fine for others to offer their prayers for him, and then hopefully others too," Jeff Stachewicz, primary principal and founder of the website, told The Christian Post in an email.
Paterno was at the center of the Sandusky controversy because of his failure to report Sandusky's abuse to authorities, although he did report the incident to his immediate supervisor after being alerted by one of his assistants.
While some felt that the head coach did not do enough to help the abused children, other long-time supporters and fans stood by the man who faithfully led the Penn State University Nittany Lions to a record-number of victories for more than 46 years.
Paterno's purported inaction eventually led to his dismissal by the university board of trustees. Earlier this year, however, the university board announced that they would keep Paterno as a tenured member of the faculty even though he was no longer a coach, and that they would also honor his contract financially as if he had retired at the end of the season.
Details of the retirement and contract were being finalized when Paterno passed away on Jan. 22, 2012, resulting in mixed public feelings.
Stachewicz hopes that prayer for Paterno would not only have people supporting him in ways other than "carrying a sign," but also encourage and spread prayer in general throughout the nation.
"[People] may stop and realize the importance of prayer for their other deceased loved ones, and hopefully other issues," he noted to CP. "It is simply about encouraging prayer at a time when most people are too busy with life's challenges to make it a priority, some no less than a thought."
When asked if prayer for Paterno's "memory" would change his legacy, Stachewicz stated that intercession was not intended for that reason. "Simply the prayers are intended for his soul as he crosses over into glory with God, the trip we will all take someday."
And what about prayer for the neglected and abused children in Sandusky's case?
"If you review the Circle of Prayers site we cover many topics, and anyone can certainly add this, or any other topic," the founder shared. "We also pray for the unborn, hungry, etc., we all need prayer."
"We're not trying to tell people what to pray for, hopefully just spark the inspiration to do it."
Stachewicz, with the help of his friends, started Circle of Prayers, witnessing God's work in his life and the lives of others. The creator hopes the site will be used by campus ministries and parishes to generate interest toward prayer for any topic.
"I am a strong believer in prayer," he affirmed, inspired by the "power of divine mercy," and strongly influenced by "Medjugore, Saint Faustina and Sr. Josefa Menedez.
"The website is simply to inspire or promote prayer, we don't expect to change the world, but every prayer certainly can help," Stachewicz concluded.