Marian Helper Spring 2024

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.