Marian Helper Spring 2024

Inspiration and news from the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception Marian Helper Inspectio Cordis l Lenten devotions l Apostle of the Eucharist Spring 2024 HAND-OFF! A new ‘Fr. Joseph’ takes the field

Enroll a loved one today! 1-800-462-7426 l Your offering helps support the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception. B61-AE24 (Rust Foiled) All Year: Have your loved ones remembered in prayer from this Easter to the next. They will share in the spiritual benefits of the Holy Masses, prayers, and good works of the Marian priests and brothers. Send one of these cards to announce your gift. Three Masses on Easter: Send your loved ones these exclusive cards to announce that they will be remembered in the three Holy Masses on Easter at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy. B61-EG242 (Gold Foiled) There is no charge for us to send you these cards. An offering is requested when you use the cards. B61-EG241 (Gold Foiled) Share the Glorious Gift of Easter B61-EG243 (Gold Foiled)

AMH Director/Publisher: Father Mark Baron, MIC — “Father Joseph, MIC” Executive Editor: Dr. Joe McAleer Designer: Andrew Leeco Writer, assistant editor: Chris Sparks AMH General Promoter: Br. Andrew R. Mączyński, MIC Vol. 81, No. 1 Spring 2024 8 Completed pass Mission Statement Marian Helper is intended to serve members of the Association of Marian Helpers (AMH), a spiritual benefit society of the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The magazine seeks to provide spiritual nourishment, education about the Catholic faith, and information about the mission and good works of the Marians. It also provides information about Association services and presents opportunities to support the mission and good works of the Congregation. Marian Helper is published quarterly by the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception. It is sent free of charge to active members of the Association. Printed in the USA with ecclesiastical approval. Copyright © 2024 Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception of the B.V.M. All rights reserved. Send all correspondence to: Association of Marian Helpers, Editorial Dept., Eden Hill, Stockbridge, MA 01263. Email: [email protected] Website: Since the founding of the Association of Marian Helpers in 1944, Marian priests and brothers have served as directors and held the honorary title of “Father Joseph, MIC.” The ball has now been passed for the 21st time from the Very Rev. Chris Alar, MIC, to Fr. Mark Baron, MIC, as a busy pilgrimage season begins on Eden Hill. 3 Father Joseph Writes 4 Marian Helpers in Action 6 Father Joseph’s Picks 7 Notes from Rome 31 Outstanding Helpers 33 Graces Received 36 From the Vaults Departments For the first time, a father, mother, and all seven children have been beatified together. A family of martyrs Watching with Jesus 17 Father Peter Kieniewicz, MIC, asks us: How much time do we spend in prayer? Father Thaddaeus Lancton, MIC, introduces Inspectio Cordis, a new weekly web series. ‘This dog can bark but cannot bite’ 14 Prepare for the holy season of Lent with a new daily devotional from Marian Press. Be ‘transformed’ this Lent 16 22 Follow Joseph! 18 As his feast day approaches, the foster father of Jesus remains a powerful intercessor. The Apostle of the Eucharist Get to know St. Peter Julian Eymard in a dynamic new book by Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC. 20 Page Prayers and donations from Marian Helpers have given hope to those in the crossfire. Ukraine, two years later 25 Susan B. Anthony and the Marian Fathers have more in common than you might think. Adams connections 26 11 Final Vows 12 Divine Mercy Weekend 13 Capital Campaign 24 Healthcare Conference Around the world in 180 days by an intrepid Marian Helper seeking holy places and shrines. Pilgrimage of a lifetime 28

Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception The Marian Fathers are a Congregation of nearly 500 priests and brothers in 19 countries around the world. We support the Holy Father and embrace the official teachings of the Catholic Church in our special calling to: ● Spread devotion to Mary as the Immaculate Conception. ● Offer our lives for the Holy Souls in Purgatory, especially the victims of war and disease. ● Operate publishing apostolates and assist where the need is greatest in parishes, shrines, and missions. ● Promote the Divine Mercy message and devotion. ● Organize people of good will to work with and through us to bring Christ everywhere. Association of Marian Helpers — Join us! Established in 1944, the Association of Marian Helpers is a spiritual benefit society that prayerfully and financially supports the priests and brothers of the Congregation of Marian Fathers. Your enrollment means that, by a decree of the Holy See, you share in these graces: ● A daily Mass offered for all Marian Helpers. ● A share in the prayers, good works, and merits of the Marian priests and brothers around the world. ● A special Mass offered on feast days of our Savior and His Blessed Mother. ● A monthly Mass on each First Friday and each First Saturday. ● A Mass offered for deceased members on All Souls’ Day. ● The perpetual Novena to the Divine Mercy. l Deepen your commitment of prayer and support by joining one of our three spiritually nourishing prayer clubs: l Support a particular ministry: l Create a memorial or tribute: l Arrange a special gift of stock, a qualified charitable distribution from your IRA, a grant from your donor-advised fund, a gift through your will or trust, or annuity: Call 1-800-671-2020 to make a gift by phone or for assistance. Free online help for your will, visit A sample form of bequest to the Marians is: I give and bequeath to the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception of the B.V.M. (Tax ID #20-8599030), Stockbridge, MA 01262, ____% of my adjusted gross estate (or $_______, or a specific asset) to be used for its religious and educational purposes. Marian Helpers Center Stockbridge, Massachusetts Headquarters and publishing center for the Association of Marian Helpers. 1-800-462-7426 National Shrine of The Divine Mercy (413) 298-3931 For pilgrimages: (413) 298-1119 Mercy Apostolates Learn about our lay ministries: Eucharistic Apostles of The Divine Mercy Dr. Bryan Thatcher 1-877-380-0727 Healthcare Professionals for Divine Mercy Marie Romagnano, MSN, RN, CCM 1-866-895-3236 John Paul II Institute of Divine Mercy Dr. Robert Stackpole 1-866-895-3236 Mother of Mercy Messengers Joan and Dave Maroney 1-830-634-7765 Evangelization Team Invite the Marians to speak at your parish. (413) 298-1349 [email protected] Intercessory Prayerline Send us prayer intentions. 1-800-804-3823 Websites Who We Are Other ways to support God’s mission Sign-up is easy: Visit Visit 2 Marian Helper • Spring 2024 •

Father Joseph Writes It’s an honor and privilege to be the new, 21st “Father Joseph, MIC,” the director of the Association of Marian Helpers. It’s a blessing to be taking on the role after my Marian brother, the Very Rev. Chris Alar, MIC, has had such a successful and productive time in office. Having known Fr. Chris, especially as his novice master and then as his seminarian director for one year, I am not surprised at the fruits God has brought forth through his priestly service as Fr. Joseph. The ability to be an effective leader and priest was always there, and it has been a joy to witness how the Lord has utilized his talents as the leader of the Association to help both the Church and the Marians. Parish service I come to this office after serving for several years as administrator at Our Lady of Peace Parish in Darien, Illinois, founded by the Marians in the 1930s. My time with that community was a great blessing. I loved being able to walk with people in their daily lives and minister to their spiritual needs. I also enjoyed witnessing the great love that people had for Our Lady of Peace. Many parishioners had worked with Fr. Al Micka, MIC, the first pastor, to help build and grow it into a large parish. Though I enjoyed serving in that community, and in many ways was content in doing so, God has now called me to a different labor in His vineyard through my superiors. So here I am! I look forward to meeting many of you and working alongside you in service to Christ and His Church. The times are tough, it’s true, but we’re given such extraordinary gifts in our Marian charism. Serving the Church where the need is greatest, we practice and promote devotion to Mary Immaculate, spiritual assistance for the Holy Souls in Purgatory, and preach in parishes and missions, especially the message and devotion of Divine Mercy. Be a dish rag I really love the “dish-rag” mentality of our Marian Renovator, Bl. George Matulaitis (1871-1927). He wrote that he just wanted to be a dish rag in the hands of our Lord, wiping up the messes as needed in His House. That’s central to being a Marian. I really believe that in order to be happy and fulfilled in life, you have to have that dish-rag mentality. God can't work through you without this kind of humility. Pray for me, that I may live this spirituality in my work in service to you all. May God bless you! AN HONOR AND PRIVILEGE “Father Joseph, MIC,” is the honorary title of the director of the Association of Marian Helpers. The current director is Fr. Mark Baron, MIC. Marian Helper • Spring 2024 • 3 I’m so pleased to be writing to you, our Marian Helpers, in my first issue as publisher of this esteemed magazine. We Marian Fathers couldn’t begin to live in service to Christ and His Church as consecrated religious without your prayers, encouragement, and support.

Painful endurance, Redemptive Suffering Marian Helpers in Action Justin enjoyed cycling, both competitively and recreationally with his family. And he was good at it. The pain was worth it. But when an illness, which had been gradually progressing since he was a teenager, forced Justin to trade his bicycle for a cane and ankle braces as a young adult, the purpose of pain suddenly was no longer clear. Justin “was increasingly agonized” by the question of why this suffering had come into his life. The mental and physical anguish “led me away from God,” Justin, now 30, admits. As he wrestled with the apparent meaninglessness of this new trial, Justin “didn’t look to God” for a long time. By Marian Friedrichs As a competitive cyclist, Justin Koelbl knew that suffering can have meaning. During training, pain often told him when he was pushing himself hard enough, and in competition, he says, “Usually the one who won the race was the one who was willing to suffer the most.” 4 Marian Helper • Spring 2024 •

Seek and find But the endurance Justin had developed as a racer served him well. His persistent quest for answers led him to investigate what the Church has to say about the power of redemptive suffering. Jesus promised that those who seek will find (see Mt 7:7), and through reading Scripture and the lives of the saints, Justin found not only answers, but a treasury of wisdom that shone light at last on what he was going through. “Pain used to mean I’m training well or I’m doing well in the race, but now it’s an indicator that I have a gift to give to God,” he says. “I have tremendous joy in all I’ve learned about suffering. I feel I’ve won the lottery in all I’ve learned.” The value of suffering comes from God’s love transforming the trials of life into gifts that, when willingly offered to Him, can draw down grace to save souls. Without this love and grace, suffering would indeed be pointless. “I couldn’t read many of the saints’ writings about suffering without having a crucifix in front of me to remind me of His love,” Justin says. Through his reading and reflection, Justin discovered that the pain he bore was both less and more special than he had at first understood. “I began to realize just how much we suffer without even knowing it,” he says. People carry the burden of suffering daily, whether in their bodies or spirits or both. Pain is at once as common as dust and more precious than gold. Uniting with Jesus Displaying enormous spiritual maturity, Justin began to unite his own suffering with Jesus’ sacrifice at every Mass. During the Offertory, he prays for his pain to be dropped into the chalice, mingling with the water and wine that will become Jesus’ Precious Blood, which the priest will lift up to Heaven as atonement for sin. Like the Eucharist itself, which God gives to us but which we offer back to Him through the hands of the priest, “suffering is a gift from God and a gift to God,” he says. Outside of Mass, Justin gives his pain to God through prayers such as the Morning Offering and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. He learned from the writings of the Marian Fathers that “the Chaplet is an extension of the Mass. When I pray ‘His Sorrowful Passion,’ that includes my own. With Jesus, I can implore God’s mercy on the whole world.” Justin’s family also gave him a powerful example of the potency of suffering united with love. “My dad has always desired to take on suffering for me,” he says. When Justin got sick, his father prayed that he could experience his son’s pain in his place. Astonishingly, in time, Justin’s father was afflicted by an illness with symptoms similar to Justin’s. Then, unexpectedly, and without any apparent connection with his existing condition, Justin’s father had a stroke. His right side was left paralyzed, but, surprisingly, the symptoms from the illness he shared with Justin were significantly reduced. Research Justin and his brother have informal research experience, and they were able to work with professional medical researchers to try to discover why their dad’s illness had improved. Through this research, Justin learned ways to alleviate his own suffering. While Justin’s dad did not actually take all of Justin’s pain onto himself, the stroke — the paralyzing effects of which he continues to endure — lit his son’s path to a more comfortable existence with his own illness. “I don’t believe my dad suffered a stroke primarily to provide physical relief,” Justin says. “I believe it’s for saving souls.” Saving souls Suffering is a profound mystery. “I once thought that a mystery meant I couldn’t learn more, but it means you can always learn more.” Justin still struggles with suffering, but when doubt and darkness attack, he says, the soul has to “just cling to Jesus in the Eucharist.” When people do not look at pain through the lens of God’s love and within the setting of His redemptive plan, they can torment themselves with the question of why they should have to suffer. Those who understand that their suffering can help save souls, however, may instead wonder how they merited a role in the mission of Christ. Justin marvels, “The King of the Universe desires us to do the same day-to-day work that He does. There’s nothing I did to deserve a share in His work. Suffering is incomprehensible only as much as God’s mercy is incomprehensible.” Justin Koelbl visited the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy last summer. Marian Helper • Spring 2024 • 5

Visit or call 1-800-462-7426. Father Joseph’s Picks Launching into Lent, heading toward Easter and Divine Mercy Sunday, let’s prepare ourselves with some great Catholic resources by four Marian priests. By Fr. James Cervantes, MIC Marian Fr. James Cervantes, MIC, collected crucial passages from St. Faustina’s Diary to share with friends and family, and now with you, our Marian Helpers. Spend each day with St. Faustina, the Secretary and Apostle of Divine Mercy. Read the Diary passages slowly. It’s about quality, not quantity. Allow the words to touch your heart deeply. A great spiritual aid. $9.95. B61-FTSF DIVINE MERCY IN OUR SOULS: THOUGHTS OF ST. FAUSTINA By Fr. Thaddaeus Lancton, MIC The Immaculate Conception describes the sinless conception of the Blessed Virgin in St. Anne’s womb, explains Fr. Thaddaeus Lancton, MIC, in this new guide to consecration to the Immaculate Conception. The Holy Spirit continues to imprint this mystery on our hearts by purifying us of all sin and healing its effects, so that we, too, may be immaculate like the Virgin. Through these 40 days, we tap into the living reality of this mystery and allow the fire of the Holy Spirit to touch our hearts. A great way to take your Marian devotion to the next level. $15.95. B61-BELH SHINING IN SPOTLESS SPLENDOR: CONSECRATION TO THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION Since its publication in 2016, 33 Days to Merciful Love by Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC, the sequel to the international bestseller 33 Days to Morning Glory, has helped thousands grow in devotion and draw closer to our Lord through the spirituality of St. Thérèse of Lisieux. This new edition supplements the original text for each of the 33 days with thought-provoking questions to answer and discuss in a group setting. It also provides exclusive access to retreat videos posted on to enrich your consecration to Divine Mercy and encourage group discussion. $24.95. B61-3MLRC3 33 DAYS TO MERCIFUL LOVE: GROUP RETREAT & STUDY GUIDE NEW! NEW! 6 Marian Helper • Spring 2024 • By Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC Several popes have referred to St. Peter Julian Eymard (1811-1868) as “the Apostle of the Eucharist.” But when it comes to worldwide recognition of his extraordinary life, as well as the many amazing things he did to foster a greater love for the Blessed Sacrament, most Catholics are unfamiliar with him and have never heard his name. Join Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC, on a 30 Day Eucharistic Revival intended to help you, your children, your grandchildren, and all future generations rediscover and experience a renewal of belief in the Real Presence, especially during the period of National Eucharistic Revival in the United States. $15.95. B61-ECHR 30 DAY EUCHARISTIC REVIVAL: A RETREAT WITH ST. PETER JULIAN EYMARD NEW! NEW!

Notes from Rome By the Most Rev. Joe Roesch, MIC Father Jeno Stephen, MIC, was ordained to the priesthood in his native India five years ago. He arrived in Rome last summer to do some advanced studies. Let’s get to know him in his own words. “I was born on Oct. 20, 1993, in the Diocese of Sivagangai, Tamil Nadu, India, in the village of Sebathiyar Puram, Pushpavanam Parish, as the third child of Arockiam and Arul Thainas Mary. Being a middle-class, traditional Catholic family, my parents had to work hard on the farm for our survival. My mother's unwavering, selfless love is one of her most remarkable characteristics, while my father is a quiet, hard worker who is constantly focused on his responsibilities. John Martin and Amutha, my two elder siblings, are blessed with lovely families. “It's difficult to pinpoint the precise moment when the divine spark emerged, but I firmly believe that I was called from an early age, which inspired me to actively participate in community prayer and the Sacraments. “After graduating from high school in 2010, I was unsure what to do next. My pastor encouraged me to join the Marian Fathers. On Oct. 28, 2010, I eagerly went to the Marian Formation House in Karumathur. I received a BSc in physics in 2013 and then completed my MA in philosophy. “I had vocational struggles during my years of formation, but God was always there to support me through the darkest moments. Coming to know Fr. Jan Migacz, MIC, as a novice allowed me to learn more about our spirituality, identity, history, and charism, which strengthened my call. I made my first religious profession in 2016. Through my perpetual vows in 2019, I made my permanent commitment to follow my Master’s footsteps as a Marian. “I did my diaconate ministry at St. Antony the Great’s Shrine in the Diocese of Sivagangai. After my priestly ordination on Dec. 28, 2019, I worked at the same Shrine, but the pandemic made pastoral work impossible. “I was then appointed assistant pastor at Sacred Heart Church in Thiruvarangam. I was very happy with the varied pastoral work that I performed in that large parish. Then, I worked as the house superior and novice master at our seminary in Mysore from 2021 to 2023. This work was not easy for me because of the great demands and the sacrifices involved. I came to know my strengths and weaknesses as a new formator, and those two years really helped me in my own personal development. “I had been eagerly looking forward to coming to our Generalate in Rome, which I had only ever seen in photographs. As one of the first Marian priests from India, I had only met a handful of Marians and had never been to any of our communities abroad, so coming to Rome provided a better opportunity to meet Marians from other countries. I have become more deeply acquainted with our community life and our spiritual path here. “I am doing a licentiate in Mariology at the Marianum Institute. There is a great tradition of devotion to Mother Mary in India, which influenced my own personal devotion to her. My studies are deepening my understanding of Mary’s participation in the work of salvation and of our charism of the Immaculate Conception.” Please pray for Fr. Jeno and for all of our student priests here in Rome! FROM INDIA TO ROME Our Congregation’s newest mission, begun in 2010, is in one of Christianity’s oldest regions: the subcontinent of India. There, in a country of 1.3 billion people, only 2.3 percent are Catholic. Our Marian priests are following in the missionary footsteps of St. Thomas the Apostle and St. Francis Xavier. The Most Rev. Joe Roesch, MIC, is the superior general of the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception. He lives in Rome. Listen to his podcasts, including “Saint Faustina’s Diary in a Year,” on and Marian Helper • Spring 2024 • 7 Father Joe talks with Father Jeno Stephen, MIC.

8 Marian Helper • Spring 2024 • When Fr. Walter Pelczynski, MIC (1916-2000) established the Association in 1944, he got into the habit of thanking donors under the name of the provincial superior at the time, Fr. Jozef Luniewski, MIC. Before long, “Fr. Joseph, MIC,” became the assumed name of the director. Today, Fr. Joseph, MIC oversees a spiritual benefit society with nearly 2 million members that continues to prayerfully and financially support the priests and brothers of the Congregation of Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception. Father Mark, 54, was born in Louisville, Kentucky. He attended Purdue University, and was ordained for the Marians in 2004. He has held a variety of positions over two decades, including novice master, superior of the Marian House of Formation in Washington, D.C., and, for the past six years, administrator of Our Lady of Peace Parish in Darien, Illinois. Marian Helper sat down with Fr. Mark to discuss his new appointment. By Dr. Joe McAleer Completed Pass Every few years, there is a sea change at the Marian Helpers Center on the campus of the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. A new “Fr. Joseph, MIC,” is appointed, the titular head of the Association of Marian Helpers. This January, Fr. Mark Baron, MIC, took the reins from the Very Rev. Chris Alar, MIC, to become the 21st Fr. Joseph. Meet the new ‘Fr. Joseph’

Marian Helper • Spring 2024 • 9 Congratulations on becoming Fr. Joseph, MIC. In your nearly 20 years as a Marian priest, did you ever expect this appointment? Honestly, I never once thought about or aspired to be in charge of the Marian Helpers Center. It’s a big responsibility, and one that I just never saw myself fulfilling and thus never lobbied for. So the actual appointment definitely came out of the blue. But, growing up, I never thought about or aspired to become a priest, either. It wasn’t until the priest chaplain at the high school I attended mentioned to me about becoming a priest that I actually began to consider and become attracted to the idea. So I guess there is a little parallel. How did your parishioners react when you told them the news? Initially, they were shocked that I was leaving. Some came up to me afterwards and said, “Congratulations on your promotion!” As a religious, it was funny for me to hear it put like that. Being in charge of the Marian Helpers Center is a big responsibility, for sure. However, I view my appointment as Fr. Joseph as just another way that God is calling me to serve Him. What are your plans as the new Fr. Joseph? In many ways, my overall goal is just to try and continue the good work that Fr. Chris has been doing over the past 10 years. To be able to do this, my immediate plan is simply to learn. I need to deepen my familiarity with how the Marian Helpers Center operates and supports the Association. So I am going to be leaning quite a bit on Fr. Chris and the good employees of the MHC to help me understand the inner workings of the Association and how it is managed. We will be having a strategic planning meeting coming up in March, so I am sure that I will get a greater sense of where we need to focus. Donations are vital to the Marian mission and yet it can be difficult to ask people for money. What is your perspective on fundraising? We have a very generous parish at Our Lady of Peace, so I didn’t have to ask for funds too often. The only time I really did was for the Bishop’s annual appeal. The inspiration I received in preparing for that homily was that the idea of fundraising isn’t so much about asking people for money as it is about giving people an opportunity to be generous in fulfilling a role for the sake of building the Kingdom of Heaven in their hearts. There is no greater activity on earth than the work of God in a soul. By God’s design, however, He calls many different kinds of people to fulfill various kinds of spiritual and material roles so that this work of grace can take place. An important thing to note is that God calls and invites us to be generous. He never forces. If you study the Bible, you will see how God always has Then-Brother Mark participated in a Eucharistic procession at the National Shrine. Father Mark often celebrated Mass at the Pentagon. As Novice Master, Fr. Mark counseled two seminarians: future priests Chris Alar and Thaddaeus Lancton.

10 Marian Helper • Spring 2024 • called and invited people to use their talents and resources to help support the work He wants to accomplish. We see this with Jesus, who also relied on the goodness of various supporters to supply for His mission/ministry while on earth (see Lk 8:1-3). The Gospel of John tells us that Judas was put in charge of the money box, which shows that Jesus and His disciples also took in donations for the sake of the ministry. The bottom line is that the Church needs material resources to help her fulfill her mission of evangelizing and forming disciples. It is a great privilege to be able to participate in supporting this ministry. What is the value of being a Marian Helper? I can answer this in two ways. First, the Association is a way that our Lord inspires and calls people to participate in His work of saving souls through our Marian charism and mission. I would like all of our Marian Helpers who give support to our mission, in any manner, to consider the great work God accomplishes in people’s hearts through our tiny Congregation, and then realize this doesn’t happen without you. I hope this brings you immense consolation and joy. Secondly, I want our Marian Helpers to recognize that in your acts of generosity toward the Marian Fathers, God is blessing and changing your own heart, too. This is not only through the spiritual benefits that come to you by being a part of the Association. Your heart is also being transformed through the very works of mercy that God allows and calls you to perform for the sake of souls through your support of our mission. When you do good, you become good, and that reality brings us to the very heart of happiness. Happiness is of immense value because it is what we all desire. The National Eucharistic Revival is under way across the country. How did you encourage devotion to the Real Presence during your time at Our Lady of Peace? I love this question. Many of us priests and lay evangelists recognize it is hard for people to really be set on fire for God without first personally encountering Him in some way. I know this was the case for me, and the encounter I had took place via a special moment I had before the Eucharist when I was in my mid-20s. For this reason, I had a passion while I served in the parish to create opportunities for people to experience Jesus through His Eucharistic Presence. I primarily did this by organizing a prayer event for the parish called “Eucharistic Encounter.” This was held about six times a year, and involved utilizing song and short reflections to dispose hearts to encounter Jesus in the Eucharist. I also made it a point to introduce children in our school and religious education to Eucharistic Adoration. It was always a special moment for me to bring the kids before Jesus and to hear them witness to how they were affected by His Presence. Who was a big influence on your priesthood? Outside the Marians, I would say Catholic personalities such as Pope St. John Paul II; Fr. Michael Scanlan, TOR; Fr. Benedict Groeschel, CFR; and Dr. Scott Hahn. I would also include my spiritual director and the teachers at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C., who introduced me to the theology of St. Thomas Aquinas and challenged me to become a more critical thinker. Within the Marians, I would single out the late Fr. Seraphim Michalenko, insofar as he was such a pioneer in the promotion of the Divine Mercy message and devotion that would have a profound impact on the way I saw Jesus, myself, and the Church. Do you have any hobbies? Growing up in Kentucky, I had a great passion for both playing and watching sports, especially college basketball and football. I still like to follow most sports, but the only sport that I really play right now is golf, which I enjoy quite a bit. Are you related to Bishop Robert Barron? Ha! I get that question all the time. No, I am not. He has an extra “r” in his last name. Besides, I don’t think I am smart enough to be related to him! Father Mark was a fixture at the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C.

White habits were on show in December as three Marian seminarians professed their perpetual vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience, the final stage in joining a religious congregation. Congratulations to Br. Ryan Asensio, MIC; Br. Patrick Lynch, MIC; and Br. Alexander Pumphrey, MIC. As part of the ceremony, each was clothed in the new white habit. Brother Patrick, 27, professed his vows on Dec. 8, in Argentina, where he has been serving. “Jesus has been so merciful to me in my life,” he said, “and, come what may, I trust Him to bring to completion the good work He has begun in me.” Brothers Alexander and Ryan professed their vows on Dec. 16 at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy. “Making perpetual vows is a great gift from God,” Br. Ryan, 31, said. “It is a promise of fidelity, Him to me and me to Him. But He is the one who is going to have to help me be faithful. So really, it’s all Him!” Added Br. Alexander, 30, “I’m not sure what Jesus has in store for me next, but my prayer is that I will always remain humble enough to listen to His voice, and courageous enough to answer His call.” Marian formation For each man, perpetual profession marks a significant milestone in his vocational journey, which will proceed, God willing, on to ordination as a transitional deacon and then a priest. “We are blessed as Marians to have fine young men such as Patrick, Alex, and Ryan coming forward to do God’s work,” said the Very Rev. Chris Alar, MIC, provincial superior. “The Church needs good men like these men. Their demeanor, love of God, and love of brother are commendable and will at an even greater level be joined to our community. “We remain grateful to our Marian Helpers for their prayers and financial support of our thriving vocations program,” Fr. Chris concluded. “As you can see, it’s working!” Final Vows Brother Patrick Lynch, MIC. To bless or not to bless? The declaration Fiducia Supplicans (“On the Pastoral Meaning of Blessings”), issued on Dec. 18 by the Vatican Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith (DDF), has caused much confusion and raised many questions in regard to offering blessings to same-sex couples. Here’s what you need to know. The nature of marriage between a man and a woman has not changed. Fiducia Supplicans states clearly that “the Church’s perennial teaching on marriage” is unchanged. In fact, the March 15, 2021 Responsum issued by the DDF had already confirmed this: “The declaration of the unlawfulness of blessings of unions between persons of the same sex is ... a reminder of the truth of the liturgical rite and of the very nature of the sacramentals.” Can a priest or deacon offer a blessing to a same-sex couple? The intention of any blessing is to invite God’s grace to turn away from sin and strive for greater holiness. The priest or deacon can bless each individual, but not validate their civil union or marriage. On Jan. 4, Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández, DDF prefect, clarified the declaration by offering a sample blessing: “Lord, look at these children of yours, grant them health, work, peace, and mutual help. Free them from everything that contradicts your Gospel and allow them to live according to your will. Amen.” What is the position of the Marian Fathers? On Dec. 21, the Very Rev. Chris Alar, MIC, provincial superior, issued a formal statement: “Marian clergy (ordained deacons and/or priests) are prohibited from blessing irregular relationships, unions, or same-sex couples in the United States and Argentina, or while traveling abroad. This applies to all Marian clergy regardless of diocesan policies. We see no situation in which such a blessing of a couple could be properly and adequately distinguished from some level of approval of the irregular relationship, leading to the scandal of the faithful. “It needs to be emphasized, however, that blessing individual persons struggling with sin, but striving to do the will of God and conform their lives to Church teaching, are not only allowed, but strongly encouraged. Marian clergy will continue to bless the individual sinner, but we cannot in any way bestow blessings that may infer that we are condoning or blessing the sin of irregular unions.” Learn more at Marian Helper • Spring 2024 • 11 Brother Ryan Asensio, MIC. Brother Alexander Pumphrey, MIC.

Divine Mercy Weekend 2024 Planning is in full swing for the celebration of Divine Mercy Weekend, April 6-7, at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. More than 15,000 people are expected to attend the annual event hosted by the Marian Fathers, who have promoted the Divine Mercy message and devotion since 1941. The principal celebrant for the liturgy on Divine Mercy Sunday will be the Most Rev. Timothy P. Broglio, JCD, Archbishop of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, U.S.A. Mass will be broadcast live by EWTN and on at 1 p.m. EST on April 7. Preceding the Mass at 12 p.m. EST (and broadcast live on EWTN) will be our annual pre-show, hosted by the Most Rev. Joseph Roesch, MIC, superior general, and the Very Rev. Chris Alar, MIC, provincial superior. Focus on Catholic men “We are very excited about this year’s pre-show,” says Fr. Chris. “Our focus is on bringing men back to the faith. It’s about fatherhood and leadership. Men must step up and set a good faith example for their wives and children, and partner with their wives in the promotion of the ‘Domestic Church.’ We have a great line-up of guests with first-hand experience.” Guests include two well-known actors and producers, Kevin Sorbo and James Wahlberg; and two stars from the National Football League: former Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Elvis Grbac, and Denver Broncos assistant coach Ben Steele. Throughout the weekend, the 350-acre Shrine grounds are transformed into a small tent city, providing opportunities for Confessions, Eucharistic Adoration, praying the Rosary, and perusing the Divine Mercy Gift Shop. Both the Vigil Mass at 4 p.m. on April 6, and the Sunday Liturgy on April 7, will be celebrated on Eden Hill at the Mother of Mercy Outdoor Shrine. “We hope to see you on Eden Hill,” says Fr. Chris. “But if you are unable to join us, please help your pastor and parish celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday. We have a host of useful resources available on our website,” The Marian Fathers extend a warm invitation to come to Eden Hill to experience this annual celebration. Admission is free. Private vehicles do not need to register, but buses and groups larger than 15 people must register in advance. Pilgrims are advised to check the weather forecast and dress appropriately. Details and more information available now on Go deeper! Visit us online! The online version of Marian Helper is a user-friendly flipbook with hundreds of links to helpful resources and additional information. Visit

Marian Helper • Spring 2024 • 13 On the Tuesday after Thanksgiving last year, we invited Marian Helpers to participate in something special — and you responded, setting an all-time fundraising record! The theme for “Giving Tuesday” on Nov. 28 was “The Marian Field of Dreams” (a riff on the 1989 film), which featured Fr. Andy Davy, MIC (right), hearing a voice saying, “If you build it, they will come.” Fr. Andy is the director of postulants, guiding future seminarians in their discernment for religious life. Building the new monastery and chapel supports the current and future growth of the Marian community on Eden Hill and meets a critical need. The goal for “Giving Tuesday” was to raise $2 million more by year-end and push the “Together for Christ and His Churc h” campaign beyond 90 percent completion. Five early donors stepped forward with gifts totaling $1 million, and challenged others to join the effort — and you certainly did! More than 3,300 donors gave an additional $1.4 million, eclipsing prior Giving Tuesday appeals by more than six-fold. Vote of confidence Tom and Ann are among the many Marian Helpers answering the call. “ We are delighted to be able to help the Marians build a proper domicile for the priests and brothers and anxiously anticipate the start of construction ,” says Tom. “It’s truly a vote of confidence from our Marian Helpers on the importance of our capital campaign and how vital this building project is to the future growth of the Marian Fathers and to our Church,” states Ben Davis, director of mission advancement. To date, $31 million has been raised towards a campaign goal of $33 million, or 94 percent. “We have now reached a level of support that allows us to start construction this year,” Davis adds. “There is a lot of work to do to prepare the site, turn architectural drawings into construction documents, and stage materials before we break ground. But we can now confidently move forward with locking in contracts and planning the timeline for the approximately 18-month construction phase.” Additional needs Davis emphasized that the capital campaign remains active. “We continue to have the need to raise additional funds for the last of the construction costs, furnishings, and groundwork to include driveways, parking, and landscaping,” he says. “Almsgiving is one of the pillars of the holy season of Lent, along with prayer and fasting,” said the Very Rev. Chris Alar, MIC, provincial superior. “If you have not already done so, please prayerfully support our campaign and give what you can. God bless you!” A Dream Realized We invite you to participate in the capital campaign to build a new monastery and chapel at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy. Visit ‘Giving Tuesday’ sets record

‘This dog can bark but cannot bite’ The Gospel for the first Sunday of Lent always recounts the temptations of Jesus in the desert. Depending on the year, we read the Gospel of Matthew, Mark, or Luke with some variations about the order or detail of the temptations. But they have in common that Jesus “was prompted, or rather stirred up or driven by the Divine Spirit to withdraw into the desert.” It would seem “strange” that the Holy Spirit would bring Jesus into the desert, but Jesus “recapitulates” the history of Israel in His own life. Where they failed in the desert, He succeeds in standing firm against sin. But we know that temptations are not a thing of the past. Saint Stanislaus, meditating upon this Gospel in his Inspectio Cordis, notes that there are “many people in the world who do not feel temptations.” But, ironically, that is not a good sign, for “the evil spirit believes them to be his own, and therefore he does not display his hostile force against them.” Rather, “he assaults with great intensity” those who seek — like Jesus — to live a life pleasing to the Father. Saint Stanislaus urges us to not be surprised at temptations as if they were “new and extraordinary.” We ought to expect the devil’s hatred, but we must remember, “His forces are weaker than can be imagined. This dog can bark but cannot bite.” Temptations Saint Stanislaus continues, mentioning the various temptations Satan may throw at us, depending on whether we are hungry, exhausted, despairing, etc. By his crafty temptations, By Fr. Thaddaeus Lancton, MIC Lenten wisdom from the Marian Founder 14 Marian Helper • Spring 2024 • Editor’s note: Inspectio Cordis (A Gaze of the Heart) is the title given to the collection of meditations for Sundays by the Founder of the Marians, St. Stanislaus Papczyński (1631-1701). These meditations, published weekly on Fridays online on in preparation for Sunday Mass, allow Jesus to gaze into your heart and teach you selfexamination, leading you to a more fruitful reception of Holy Communion, where there is a true encounter of our hearts with His Sacred Heart — especially fitting during this period of National Eucharistic Revival. Here, Fr. Thaddaeus offers St. Stanislaus’ meditations on the holy season of Lent.

“He tries to drive away and remove from the plough the laborers dedicated to the service of God.” Can we name our temptations? It is opportune, this Lent, to ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten us to recognize the specific manners in which Satan tempts us to turn away from Jesus. Even more, St. Stanislaus teaches us that we ought to counter temptations with “contrary arguments.” He provides Scripture passages to respond to each form of seduction from the enemy, so that we always have the shield of truth against the subtlety of the devil’s lies. Naming our temptations is a path to victory. Saint Stanislaus urges us, “Look, look at the happy outcome of the temptation.” Jesus conquers Satan, and so similarly, “This is what Divine Providence does with the tempted: He allows them to be attacked, ... permits them to be troubled and overwhelmed by various waves of temptations. But at the end He reserves for them all joy and consolation.” Our heavenly Commander crowns us after our strong resistance with astonishing favors and the highest charisms and heavenly gifts. So, St. Stanislaus boldly encourages us: “Fight, fight heroically and persevere!” But, even as we remain confident of victory through Jesus, we ought “not presume too much about” our strength, not promise ourselves security. “Instead, be always vigilant, always pray, lest you fall into an insurmountable temptation.” We need to employ the proper means to victory, realizing that “it is not by great knowledge, or experience, or mortification that the infernal tempter is conquered.” Rather, Satan is completely conquered by “custody of the senses, the sword of prayer, great trust in God, patient humility, and humble patience.” Our Founder continues, “For this reason, the Lord grants you frequent access to the sacred table, so that you grow stronger against the more frequent attacks of your enemies.” Powerful weapon Saint Stanislaus emphasizes multiple times in his meditation how “the Eucharist is the most powerful weapon against every temptation,” for “as often as you are refreshed by the banquet of the Most Sacred Eucharist, you always acquire new strength and defensive armor.” Not only that, but we need to be “mindful of the grace of this most gracious God and remember to give thanks, for thus you will overcome and ward off all the might and the strong attacks of the tempter and infernal warrior.” Perseverance This Lent, to gain territory from the enemy, and not fall into temptation, we ought to heed these exhortations of St. Stanislaus. He himself faced many temptations and trials, yet persevered. One can perceive in his teaching the wisdom that he gained through personal suffering and experience. Though centuries of years stand between him and us, his writings in Inspectio Cordis reveal timely advice for the human heart that faces the same struggles in every epoch of history. Learn from him about Jesus and how to remain faithful to Him during your temptations. “Fight, fight heroically and persevere!” Prepare for Sunday Mass by reading Inspectio Cordis, posted Fridays on Saint Stanislaus emphasizes multiple times how “the Eucharist is the most powerful weapon against every temptation,” for “as often as you are refreshed by the banquet of the Most Sacred Eucharist, you always acquire new strength and defensive armor.”

Walk Lent Faithfully Learn more at Visit our life-sized Stations of the Cross at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Indeed, the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart (Heb 4:12). Every renewal in the history of the Church has had some connection to Sacred Scripture, the Word of God made text, or breath, or memory. During Lent, we are especially reminded that, here on earth, we are on pilgrimage toward our heavenly home, traveling through a vale of tears. Transformed by the Word, the 2024 Lenten devotional from the Marian Fathers, will equip you to make your Lenten pilgrimage a truly transformative experience. Be strengthened and encouraged for your Lenten pilgrimage with these easy-to-read, brief meditations for each day from Ash Wednesday through to Divine Mercy Sunday. Steeped in Scripture We all stand in the light of Our Lady, who pondered in her Heart the Mysteries she lived through, and the Scriptures of her people. We know she was deep in Scripture by her Magnificat, the sort of prayer that could only have been created by someone who’d been steeped in the psalms, the prophets, and the prayers of the Jewish people. We are a people who ponder, who read the Word of God again and again in our Liturgies and our prayer, who meditate on the Mysteries of the Rosary, drawn from the lives of Jesus and Mary, and depend on the faithful transmission of the inspired, inerrant Word of God to hand on our faith to future generations. Our saints include many whose lives were redirected by the Word of God. Saint Anthony of Egypt, for example, walked into a church and heard Matthew 19:21 being read: “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to [the] poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” That passage changed his life. He did exactly what he heard, and became the father of monasticism. Saint Augustine of Hippo heard a voice calling out, “Tolle! Lege!” (“Take up and read!”) He took up the Scriptures near to hand and read: “[N]ot in orgies and drunkenness, not in promiscuity and licentiousness, not in rivalry and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh” (Rom 13:13-14). That marked the great conversion of his life. Treasure in Heaven Saint Francis of Assisi, when other men came to him to join his way of life, turned to the Scriptures for guidance on how they should live. Saint Francis went to the Church of St. Nicholas with Brother Bernard, and opened the Bible three times, first to Matthew 19:21, then Luke 9:3 (“He said to them, ‘Take nothing for the journey, neither walking stick, nor sack, nor food, nor money, and let no one take a second tunic’”), and then Matthew 16:24 (“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me’”). That became the basis for the Franciscan way of following Jesus. This is a mere sampling of the saints sanctified by the Scriptures. Why not join their number during the holy season of Lent? Be ‘Transformed’ this Lent To order Transformed by the Word (Product code: B61-LD24), visit or call 1-800-462-7426.

Marian Helper • Spring 2024 • 17 It is the place of His struggle for the fidelity of love to the Father, a struggle in which His freedom in the face of the prospect of terrifying death is also revealed. In my own struggle in the Garden of Olives, I am losing. I don’t know how to endure that one hour. I would excuse myself with fatigue, if it weren’t for the fact that it’s simply embarrassing. I remain silent and burn with shame. I also have my moment of struggle, like Peter, when I reach for violence in defense of my Lord. This, too, is my defeat, even though, after all, I meant well. Violence is not the solution. Those who reach for the sword die by the sword. The Garden of Olives is also a place of His immense solitude, although I am — sleeping with others — right next to Him. He is praying, flowing with bloody sweat, entrusting Himself to the Father … But He is alone. … Make the time When sometime later, already after the Resurrection, Jesus will ask Peter about love, He will refer not only to the fact of the thrice-spoken “I do not know Him.” He will also recall the threefold invitation to wakefulness and the sad comment accompanying it at the end: “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? … So you could not keep watch with me for one hour?” (Mt 26:45, 40). Peter and the Sons of Zebedee were then ashamed. Perhaps we should be too? Because how much time are we ready to measure to God? How much time are we ready to give Him among our very important things? There is no denying that today time is the most valuable currency in relations between people. Sometimes we manage to save a little of it, but we do not know how to create it, multiply it. As a result, we throw in — as if into a treasury — from what we have been saving, and yet we are not able to fill it anyway. Indeed, the gift of time can really only be made by one who, like a poor widow, gives all that he has for himself. Time off is not set aside for important matters, because they will never be taken care of. For building relationships, for love and friendship, and for prayer — time has to be carved out so that thousands of “very important things” don’t destroy what is really important. Otherwise, instead of conversation, there will be shopping or cleaning, or a movie on TV, or whatever. Instead of wakefulness there will be sleep. Gift of love So if someone says he has no time for prayer, it is because he has not chosen any moment for God. Twenty-four hours a day: 1,440 minutes, 86,400 seconds. For one Hail Mary it takes, if recited calmly, about 20 seconds. If I still don’t have time to pray, it’s because I haven’t set aside any moment for prayer. Time offered is perhaps the strongest sign with which I can show that I care. But also, asking for time, being in essence a request for the gift of love, must be marked by responsibility. It is not good when I first ask for time and then, having received it, do not value the gift offered to me and waste it. I must not forget that I was not given free time. The one who gave me his time snatched it away at the expense of other activities, because I was more important to him than they were. Jesus invited the three to watch by Him as He watches by the Father. He wanted them to love Him as He loves the Father. To follow Him as He followed the Father’s will. They were not ready. Not yet … Excerpted from Lord, You know everything by Fr. Peter Kieniewicz, MIC, provincial secretary of the Polish Province of the Congregation of Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception. To order, visit or call 1-800-462-7426 (Product code: B61-EVRY). Watching with Jesus By Fr. Peter Kieniewicz, MIC The Garden of Olives is a special place for me. It is a place of prayer for the fulfillment of the Father’s will — not only for Jesus, but also for me, especially since the Lord Himself asks me to accompany Him in this hour of darkness.