Silent Unity Caller Granted Wish of a Lifetime

By Mallory Herrmann
Barbara Mariano visits Silent Unity at Unity Village, Missouri, through Wish of a Lifetime

Barbara Mariano visits Unity Village after years of praying with Silent Unity

Like many regular callers, Barbara Mariano has been praying with Silent Unity® for decades. Unlike most of the thousands of people who call in every day from around the world, Barbara recently received a personalized tour of Unity Village to see the prayer ministry that has meant so much to her during the years.

Barbara received the trip through Wish of a Lifetime, a nonprofit organization that fulfills experiential wishes for seniors nationwide. While she’s had a connection to Unity for many years, she wasn’t at all familiar with Unity Village—she said she hoped to make a big splash by arriving with her friend Debbie in their rented Dodge Challenger.

However, what she’s learning is that sometimes it’s the ripple, not the splash, that has the biggest effect. Barbara says that after attending an incredible vigil at Silent Unity, she looks forward to bringing that energy back to the kindness workshops she leads in her apartment building.

“I feel energized by the whole thing,” she says.

The 79-year-old has a penchant for inspiring those around her to make an impact in their communities, even if they don’t see the results—and even if what they’re doing is silent.

A Happy Church

Raised in the Catholic church, Barbara was introduced to Unity while working a stressful job in a psychiatric hospital. After three years in a position that typically had a two-year burnout rate, a coworker suggested Unity as a way to cope with juggling the work and raising four kids as a single parent. Barbara says she appreciated the open-mindedness of the church—and that the congregation was happy.

“I’d never been to a happy church!” she laughs.

She discovered Silent Unity and was grateful to have a “buddy you can count on” in the prayer ministry. Through the years, Barbara moved across the country to Sacramento, California, and began developing her gifts as an animal intuitive and exploring Reiki. While her personal practice had become a crucial part of her life, it was tested by trauma.

While living in an apartment complex four years ago, she was attacked with a knife by a neighbor who was dealing with mental illness. Barbara says she felt pretty messed up after that. As she began to recover, both physically and mentally from the attack, she started calling Silent Unity again.

This past January, Barbara faced another traumatic experience with a serious car accident. Faced with another period of recovery, a social worker in her living facility told her that it sounded like she needed a break. She told Barbara about Wish of a Lifetime and suggested that maybe a visit to Silent Unity would be just what she needed.

A Light in Dark Times

Silent Unity has been in constant prayer since 1929. Answering the phones 24/7 for confidential, nondenominational prayer, the team at Silent Unity offers prayer support for anyone who needs it and at any time. Joy Perrie, the director of Silent Unity, says that it’s a comfort during the wide range of experiences that people go through all over the world: grief, needs, joy, gratitude—all are met with prayer.

“We’re like a spiritual connection,” Perrie says. “We pray with one voice no matter who answers the phone and regardless of faith tradition.”

She is always delighted to hear from callers who have been connected with Silent Unity for years, even decades, and that people like Barbara are able to come visit them in person. The reach of Silent Unity is continuing to expand with their uPray app, which allows users to submit prayer requests right from their mobile device. Perrie says Silent Unity receives thousands of requests each day from the app alone.

A Trip of a Lifetime

Barbara Mariano visits Silent Unity at Unity Village, Missouri, through Wish of a Lifetime

Wish of a Lifetime has granted more than 2,000 wishes for seniors since the organization was founded in 2008. Each wish is submitted by a third-party nominator and goes through a thorough qualification and vetting process to be approved by a committee.

The wishes they grant are all experiential requests, helping seniors stay active in the world.

“Our mission is to relieve isolation,” said Nicole Partipilo, wish fulfillment specialist. “We look to introduce seniors to their community.”

Partipilo says that Barbara’s visit to Unity is a light for her in what has been a tough year. After Wish of a Lifetime has a post-wish interview with Barbara about the experience, they will create a library of photos from the trip to share with her as a memento.

Barbara was excited to be chosen for the opportunity and delighted to see the roots of Unity.

“By golly, they chose me!” Barbara says. “The whole thing has been a wonderful shock.”

Mallory HerrmannMallory Herrmann is a writer and editor in the Kansas City area. Her work has been featured in Unity Magazine, Career College Central, and the Lee’s Summit Tribune.