Divine Mercy Weekend 2023 l A new monastery on Eden Hill Father Joe, Superior General of the Marians Marian.org Summer 2023 Inspiration and news from the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception Marian Helper IN THE FOUNDER’S FOOTSTEPS
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A NEW GENERAL On Feb. 10, 2023, the Most Rev. Joseph Roesch, MIC, was elected the 40th Superior General of the Congregation of Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In its 350-year history, only four other Marian priests from the United States have served as Superior General, most recently the late Fr. Mark Garrow, MIC (1999-2005). A new vision atop Eden Hill 18 Fully open for the first time in three years, thousands came — and the weather was glorious! Divine Mercy Weekend 2023 6 The Marian Fathers have launched a capital campaign to build a new monastery and chapel. Thanks to Marian Helpers, surgeons now have lanterns to use when the electricity is cut. Shining merciful light in Ukraine 17 11 ‘Generally’ speaking 12 ‘Inspiring and humbling’ 14 ‘Continue to respond creatively’ Divine Mercy, Divine Providence 27 Father Allen Alexander, MIC, shares a “Godincidence” during a parish mission in Michigan. The greatest saints, like St. Faustina, have always turned to our spiritual mother for help. Mother of Merciful Love: Our Lady and St. Faustina 20 A Eucharistic Revival is under way across the country, and all are invited to participate. Preaching the Eucharistic Lord! 24 Mass at the Pentagon’s ‘Ground Zero’ 28 Father Jim McCormack, MIC, recalls a liturgical celebration held inside an enemy target. On the cover: The 40th Superior General of the Marian Congregation, the Most Rev. Joseph Roesch, MIC, stands beside the statue of the first Superior General, St. Stanislaus Papczyński (1631-1701), at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy. AMH Director/Publisher: Very Rev. Chris Alar, 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. 80, No. 2 Summer 2023 Miss 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 © 2023 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: Marian.org Departments 3 Father Joseph Writes 4 Marian Helpers in Action 10 Father Joseph’s Picks 22 New from Marian Press 31 Outstanding Helpers 33 Graces Received 36 From the Vaults
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: Marian.org/clubs l Support a particular ministry: Marian.org/give l Create a memorial or tribute: MemorialsOnEdenHill.org 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 a charitable gift annuity: Marian.org/Planned-Giving Call 1-800-671-2020 to make a gift by phone or for assistance. To help you start or even complete your will for free online, visit Marian.org/will. 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 ShrineOfDivineMercy.org Mercy Apostolates Learn about our lay ministries. Marian.org/ministries 1-866-895-3236 Evangelization Team Invite the Marians to speak at your parish. (413) 298-1349 [email protected] Intercessory Prayerline Send us your prayer intentions. 1-800-804-3823 Marian.org/prayer Websites Marian.org TheDivineMercy.org ShopMercy.org DivineMercyPlus.org Who We Are Thank you for your support Sign-up is easy: Visit MICPrayers.org Other ways to support God’s mission through us Visit marian.org/social 2 Marian Helper • Summer 2023 • Marian.org
Father Joseph Writes It was also wonderful to reunite with our new Superior General, the Most Rev. Joseph Roesch, MIC, and host the Divine Mercy Sunday pre-show on EWTN. It felt like old times! One of the topics we touched upon was how much has changed since our last EWTN broadcast in 2019: mainly, our enormous media efforts online, which I call our “new” evangelization. When COVID struck and churches were closed, many of us worried about the long-term effects of the Catholic faithful being denied the opportunity to gather as a community for Mass and the Sacraments. But almost on cue, we Marians responded online, working to create new opportunities for the faithful to spiritually participate in the prayer, worship, formation, and fellowship of our Marian Family. This was truly the Holy Spirit in action. We had already taken the first steps to livestreaming the daily Mass, Rosary, and Chaplet from the National Shrine, and were producing videos for our Marian Helpers on the web. Here was an even bigger opportunity to respond to the growing need. As usual, God can bring a greater good out of even the worst tragedies. I don’t think anyone could have anticipated the response from viewers around the world. Here’s a number for you: Since January 2020, we have had 83 million visitors to our YouTube channel (Divine Mercy), and even more if you add our pages on Facebook. It’s incredible to think of the number of lives that are touched and inspired by our community life shared online. We receive hundreds of letters, emails, text messages, and online comments daily. People write and say, “Father, after watching your talk, I went to my first Confession in years.” “I have returned to the Church.” “I have decided to pray the Rosary daily.” My Saturday talks, “Explaining the Faith,” have been very popular. “Living Divine Mercy,” our EWTN program airing Wednesdays and later available on YouTube, is produced here at the National Shrine. The global reach of EWTN has enabled us to potentially reach hundreds of millions of souls. Our podcasts are also very popular, especially those created by Fr. Roesch. All of our content is now easily accessible on a brand new website, DivineMercyPlus.org. This digital platform houses a huge library of original Catholic content from the Marians, assembled in one easy to access and navigate place. You know you can always rely on the Marians to tell the truth about our faith. Sadly, we live in a world dominated by cancel culture. If attempts are made to block our efforts online, know that you can find all of our programming on DivineMercyPlus.org. Truly, our “new” evangelization efforts are bearing good fruit. But we don’t do it alone. As Blessed George Matulaitis-Matulewicz once wrote, “Lay men and women could do so much good ... , once they have been instructed and educated in matters of faith and better informed about the needs of the Church.” So together, let us continue to build up the Church, the Body of Christ, one soul at a time! What a joy it was to welcome thousands of pilgrims to the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy on Divine Mercy Weekend, April 15-16. It’s been three long years since we last hosted a fully-open celebration, and as you will see in this issue of Marian Helper, it was a magnificent, grace-filled weekend, months in the planning and flawlessly executed by our hard-working Marian priests and brothers, intrepid employees, and a loyal army of 600 volunteers. OUR ‘NEW’ EVANGELIZATION “Father Joseph, MIC,” is the honorary title of the director of the Association of Marian Helpers. The current director is the Very Rev. Chris Alar, MIC, interim Provincial Superior of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy Province in the United States and Argentina. Marian Helper • Summer 2023 • Marian.org 3
4 Marian Helper • Summer 2023 • Marian.org They had been attending Mass together for a while now, usually arriving late, always sitting in the back. Now, as the faithful filed up for Holy Communion, Tasya wanted to know why Leo never followed them. ‘It’s a Sacrament’ Early in their relationship, the couple had been pressured by family to break up on account of their religious differences — she was a Muslim, he a lapsed Catholic — but instead, they had become engaged in 2014. No wedding date was set, but one day in 2017, Tasya had suddenly asked Leo whether he would want to get married in the Catholic Church. Leo said yes. “Then,” Tasya replied, “we should start going.” Now, Leo explained to her in a whisper, “It’s not a cookie. It’s a Sacrament, and you’re not supposed to receive it if you’re in mortal sin.” “Oh,” said Tasya. “How do you get rid of that?” “I have to go to Confession.” “Then you should go.” Leo knew she was right. “This is the Holy Spirit,” he thought, “speaking through Tasya to me.” He told her he would go soon. But he didn’t. Addiction struggles Leo had never meant to turn away from God. He and Human love and Divine Mercy Marian Helpers in Action “Leo, why don’t you go up and get the ‘cookie’?” Tasya whispered to her fiancé, Leo Marinak, in the back pew of St. John the Evangelist Church in Agawam, Massachusetts. By Marian Friedrichs
Marian Helper • Summer 2023 • Marian.org 5 Tasya had begun an impure relationship, however, and when he was alone, Leo struggled with a pornography addiction. In the past, he had confessed these sins and truly wanted to stop committing them, but it was hard. Eventually, knowing he would fall into his impure habits again, Leo thought, “What’s the point of going to Confession?” Then, knowing he could not receive Holy Communion, he had decided there was not much point in going to Mass, either. Leo filled his Sundays with hobbies and community service, hoping that by wearing the Brown Scapular and doing good works, he could be saved. “I was lying to myself,” he admits, “throughout the whole experience” — even after Tasya had urged him back through the church doors. One night, a few weeks after that whispered conversation in the pew, Leo searched YouTube for something to watch before bed. A video of an artist’s depiction of hell caught his attention. It was already 11:30 p.m., and Leo didn’t expect to finish the 45-minute video, but it looked interesting, so he clicked the play button. Panic attack Before Leo finally managed to finish the video two hours later, he had the first panic attack of his life. “I started to see, one by one, all my sins,” he says. “No torment can compare to not having God. If God is pure love, pure happiness — take all that away, and what do you have?” The answer, of course, is hell, and Leo decided he was ready to do anything to avoid going there. Resolved to go to church the next day, Leo tried to calm himself down by watching a movie, but quickly shut it off and began praying the Rosary. Finally, Leo fell asleep in the arms of the Blessed Mother. The next morning, Leo was in the pew for First Saturday Mass. After Mass, he made his Confession, completed his penance, and rejoined the faithful for the Rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet. Everything changes From that morning, everything changed. Leo re-proposed to Tasya; the couple committed themselves to chastity and set a wedding date — May 18, 2019. The wait of 408 days was extremely difficult, but the couple began attending Mass more frequently, including on First Saturdays, and discovered “the graces that the Blessed Mother gives are just unfathomable.” Leo purged his life of triggers that might lead him back into his pornography addiction. When a friend invited him to join the Knights of Columbus, Leo accepted — “if you’ll help make sure I never lose my faith again and never stop going to Confession.” One day in church, Leo found a pamphlet about St. Faustina’s visions of Purgatory, hell, and Heaven. “It brought me right back to that night” when he had resolved to amend his life, he recalls, and inspired him to pray the Chaplet regularly. In 2018, Tasya expressed interest in attending the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA); Leo offered to go with her. At the classes, Leo was reintroduced to Church teachings he had learned in long-forgotten Catholic school lessons and discovered more truths of the faith, as he and Tasya delved into the Catechism of the Catholic Church to find answers to their questions. When Tasya received the Sacraments at Easter Vigil 2019, she took Faustina as her Confirmation saint. ‘End up smiling’ Today, as a married couple, Leo and Tasya remain active in the life of their parish, attending weekly Eucharistic Adoration and serving as lectors. Leo is a fourth degree Knight and a member of the bishop’s honor guard. Tasya works for the Diocese of Springfield, helping to recruit new priests. Before the birth of their son, Milo Paul, in 2022, the couple suffered three miscarriages, an experience that led them to service in St. Zelie’s Hope, a ministry to parents who have lost children. Leo still wears the Brown Scapular; he wants to encourage every Catholic to wear it and to pray the Rosary daily. In his work at a family-run heating and air conditioning business, Leo freely discusses faith and prayer with his boss, co-workers, and even clients. They share what God has done for them and always “end up smiling.” As he reflects on God’s merciful intervention in his own life, Leo can’t help smiling through tears himself. “I don’t know why it happened, but it happened,” he says. “It can happen to anybody.”
6 Marian Helper • Summer 2023 • Marian.org “Today, we celebrate the love of God, the Word made flesh, the Risen Lord come to save, the Divine Mercy which restores life and hope to a troubled and uncertain world,” said the Most Rev. Bernard Shlesinger, III, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, during his homily for Divine Mercy Sunday. He raised two key points: “First, an invitation — and we must RSVP —to trust in and receive His mercy as we celebrate the Feast of Divine Mercy, and gaze upon the Image of the Divine Mercy. And second, we are all called to be missionaries and heralds of the Divine Mercy and instruments of God’s peace.” On April 15-16, more than 15,000 people answered esus’ invitation to trust in and receive His mercy at the annual Divine Mercy Weekend celebration held on the grounds of the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. ‘Mercy means healing’ “Divine Mercy is something I’ve been aware of for, I’d say, 15 years,” said first-time Mercy Weekend pilgrim Mike Ciko of Our Lady of Bistrica Church in Lackawanna, New York. “Mercy means healing inside and out, being at peace with the world and those around me and in it, and trying to find Christ in everything.” The Divine Mercy Weekend Conference, held in the St. Faustina Center on April 15 and headlined by the Very Rev. Chris Alar, MIC, and Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC, drew an overflow crowd of hundreds of pilgrims. The Divine Mercy Vigil Mass was celebrated by Shrine Rector Fr. Matthew Tomeny, By Chris Sparks One glorious weekend On April 15-16, more than 15,000 people journeyed to Eden Hill for the annual Divine Mercy Weekend celebration, held on the grounds of the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Processing into Mass with Bishop Bernard Shlesinger are (from left) Deacon Timothy Childers, MIC; Fr. Jonathan Inskip, MIC, Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC, and Shrine Rector Fr. Matthew Tomeny, MIC. Divine Mercy Weekend Conference Divine Mercy Sunday pre-show Divine Mercy Sunday Mass
Marian Helper • Summer 2023 • Marian.org 7 MIC, and the homilist was Fr. Allen Alexander, MIC. On Sunday, the field show before Holy Mass included a great overview of Divine Mercy from soon-to-be-ordained Deacon Timothy Childers, MIC. He was followed by Fr. Calloway, who spoke on St. Joseph as Protector of the Eucharist, and Marian Press author Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle, who offered key insights from St. Faustina, the Secretary and Apostle of Divine Mercy. Jesus’ promises Throughout the weekend, pilgrims had the chance to go to Confession, adore Jesus present in the Most Blessed Sacrament, and attend Holy Mass. They responded to Jesus’ promises about the Octave Day of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday: “My daughter, tell the whole world about My inconceivable mercy. I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and a shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners” (Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, 699). It was appropriate that Tax Day got moved from April 15, and instead Divine Mercy Saturday was a day of debts forgiven, sins erased, and souls set right with God through Confession and the Vigil Mass. April 16, Divine Mercy Sunday, would in other years be celebrated as the Feast of St. Bernadette Soubirous, the visionary who bore witness to Our Lady identifying herself as the Immaculate Conception, and through whose faithful obedience the healing waters of Lourdes are a gift from Heaven to the world. And it was somehow right that April 16 is the birthday of the late Pope Benedict XVI, the founder of the World Apostolic Congress on Mercy, who gave us all the mandate of going forth as “witnesses of God’s mercy, a source of hope for every person and for the whole world.” On Divine Mercy Sunday, Bishop Bernard Shlesinger thanked the Marian Fathers “for your warm hospitality, for your vocation, for helping lead this great apostolic work of St. Faustina and, of course, of Our Lord, and for bringing the Divine Mercy to the world.” Lights, camera, action! Hosting the pre-show on EWTN live for the first time since 2019 are the Very Rev. Chris Alar, MIC, and the Most Rev. Joseph Roesch, MIC. Left, pilgrims had the opportunity to spend time with our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament in the Adoration tent. Under sunny skies, pilgrims waited patiently for Confession, a requirement along with Holy Communion to receive the extraordinary graces promised by Jesus on the Feast of Divine Mercy.
8 Marian Helper • Summer 2023 • Marian.org Proudly displaying a traveling Image are Ignacio Gomez and Maria del Rocio Cervantes from Stamford, Connecticut, married 35 years and originally from Puebla, Mexico. First-time pilgrims Larry and Mary Ann Luckow of Casper, Wyoming, married 40 years, are loyal viewers of the Marians on YouTube and EWTN. “Divine Mercy means everything to us. ‘Jesus, I trust in You’ is all you need,” said Mary Ann. A warm welcome to pilgrims was offered by longtime volunteers Fran Schmidt of Albany, New York, and Ellyn Ihrig of Becket, Massachusetts. “People have to come here because the peace of God is here,” Fran said. The Turpin Family drove 14 hours from Hammond, Indiana, for Divine Mercy Sunday, their first time at the National Shrine. “I heard on my heart, ‘You need to go there. You need the strength for what’s coming.’ It’s just love of God, love of Jesus Christ, for all of us,” said mom, Aurora. Hats off to Connie Gallego of Lee, Massachusetts, on her 23 rd Divine Mercy Weekend as a pilgrim and volunteer! “There’s something that brings you back every year. It’s divine!” she said. “The devotion, the love, the affirmation that something greater than us exists here. I do it for God — it’s a deal that I have with Him!”
Marian Helper • Summer 2023 • Marian.org 9 “God brings a greater good, even out of immense evil. That’s Divine Mercy,” said Fr. Chris Alar, MIC, to an overflow crowd at the Saturday conference in the St. Faustina Center. And Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC, reminded listeners of the intercession of St. Joseph. “He is so untapped — he is a reservoir of grace. Go to St. Joseph right now for mercy!” The Sisters of Mary Immaculate of Nyeri, Kenya, are annual visitors. “We look forward to sharing the goodness of God with other people,” said Sr. Ann. The multi-generational Huvahiv Family, FilipinoAmericans from Queens, New York, proclaimed together, “Jesus is our Rock!” Father Chris visits with Mary and Janet from Ottawa, Canada, first-time visitors to the National Shrine. Mary is originally from Uganda, and Janet from Rwanda. First-timers Yolanda and Jerry Garcia traveled from San Fernando, California. “There’s a lot here — you feel it in your heart just coming up the hill, and once you get here, your eyes just open up,” Yolanda said.
By Peggy Stanton For more than a decade, Dame of Malta and veteran journalist Peggy Stanton produced, wrote, and broadcast “The Order of Malta Minute with the Catechism,” a syndicated series of one-minute radio segments that sought to inspire Catholics by familiarizing listeners with the teachings of the Catholic Church, explaining what Catholics believe. Now Stanton’s nearly 260 scripts are published. The Minutes offer text-size teachings distilling the essentials of doctrine in the Catechism and offering a handy guide when readers are questioned about WHY they believe WHAT they believe. $16.95. B58-OMTK Visit ShopMercy.org/b58 or call 1-800-462-7426. Father Joseph’s Picks Summertime is a great season to pick up a book and bring your faith with you to the beach! Listen to the wisdom of Christ and His Church, even when you’re on vacation. Here are some excellent options for you and your family. THE ORDER OF MALTA MINUTES WITH THE CATECHISM 10 Marian Helper • Summer 2023 • Marian.org At the end of time, we’ll be judged on whether or not we put mercy into action — so says Matthew 25:31-46 (see also Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, 742). This booklet introduces you to the Church’s traditional list of corporal (physical) and spiritual works of mercy, as well as offering insights into the works and people who’ve put them into practice. $3.99. B58-WOMT FOR LOVE OF GOD AND NEIGHBOR: LIVING THE WORKS OF MERCY By Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC Eucharistic Gems is an aid to the Eucharistic Revival currently under way in the United States. What better way to make sure there always remains on-going fruit from the Eucharistic Revival than to have a book that offers timeless quotes on the Eucharist — 366 quotes, in fact — from popes, saints, blesseds, venerables, and servants of God. Eucharistic Gems is intended to be a book that can be read and re-read for years to come, and keep the Eucharistic Revival ever in our hearts. $13.95. B58-EUGM EUCHARISTIC GEMS: DAILY WISDOM ON THE BLESSED SACRAMENT NEW! NEW! NEW! By Fr. Michael E. Gaitley, MIC The international bestseller 33 Days to Morning Glory is presented in a new expanded study edition designed specifically for group retreats. Supplementing the original text for each of the 33 days leading to Marian consecration are thoughtprovoking questions to answer and discuss in a group setting. This new volume also provides exclusive access to retreat videos posted on DivineMercyPlus.org, to enrich the consecration experience and encourage group discussion. $24.95. B58-3DRC3 33 DAYS TO MORNING GLORY: GROUP RETREAT & STUDY GUIDE
Notes from Rome By the Most Rev. Joe Roesch, MIC There is a point in our Constitutions that says that, “supreme and immediate power in the entire Congregation is exercised in an ordinary manner, by the Superior General with the assistance of his Council and, in an extraordinary manner, by the General Chapter.” So the General Chapter, during the two weeks that it met in February, held “supreme and immediate power’ in the Congregation. The decisions made by the General Chapter need to be carried out by myself and my General Council. So, what does a Superior General do? Our directory says that I should frequently consult my General Councilors in regard to matters pertaining to the Congregation. It also says that I should frequently communicate with other Superiors, especially those who are in charge of provinces and general vicariates. I am also called upon to issue directives when needed, and to address letters to all of the confrères as necessary. Our Constitutions also state that I should visit all three Provinces and the many houses of the Congregation every three years. We have seven General Vicariates which we visit more often. I will usually travel with one of the General Councilors on these visitations. I can also designate my General Councilors or someone else to make a visitation. I am called upon to make sure that the plans of the Congregation are faithfully accomplished, and that apostolic works for the good of the Church of Christ make progress. Some decisions are to be made collegially by the General Council in which each vote has equal weight. If the vote goes against what I think, I can’t overrule it. Some matters are decided with the consent of the General Council. I can make other decisions after consulting my General Councilors. Our rule states that I must regularly send a brief account on the state and life of the Congregation to the Apostolic See. I should also appoint for myself a monitor, someone who should watch over my manner of life and who should, if necessary, admonish me. I think that this is a very good rule. All Superiors should have such a monitor. It reminds each of us that none of us is above the law. I ask for your prayers as I take on this new office for the next six years. The good news is that, if God asks us to take on an office, the Holy Spirit will give us the grace to carry out our work. Some people have asked if my life will change much as I move from being the Vicar General to the Superior General — from the second-in-command to the one in charge. Some things are very similar. However, I have noticed that some tasks have multiplied. When people call, they usually want to talk to the Superior General rather than his Vicar. The buck stops here. I am very blessed that God has given me an excellent and experienced General Council. Please pray for all of us as we serve the Congregation for the next six years! ‘GENERALLY’ SPEAKING Iarrived in Rome to serve in the administration of our Congregation in May of 2005. I spent six years as the Second General Councilor and then 12 years as the Vicar General. Now, as many of you may have heard, there has been a change in my life. For two weeks in February of this year, we held our General Chapter meeting. During the meeting, I was elected the 40th Superior General of the Congregation, so I have become a successor of our Founder, St. Stanislaus Papczyński, and of the Renovator of our Congregation, Blessed George Matulaitis-Matulewicz, the 27th Superior General. 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 podcast on the journal of Blessed George MatulaitisMatulewicz, on TheDivineMercy.org/podcasts and DivineMercyPlus.org. Marian Helper • Summer 2023 • Marian.org 11 Father Joe talks about being elected to Superior General.
‘Inspiring and humbling’ On Feb. 10, 2023, the Most Rev. Joseph Roesch, MIC, was elected the 40th Superior General of the Congregation of Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. A native of Staten Island, New York, Fr. Roesch, 62, was ordained in 1992, and has served in Rome since 2005. For the next six years, he will oversee a Congregation of 500 Marian priests and brothers in 19 countries. Marian Helper sat down with the new Superior General to discuss the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead. Father Joseph Roesch, MIC, follows in the footsteps of the Founder The Most Rev. Joseph Roesch, MIC, greets Pope Francis during the audience with Marian priests and brothers at the Vatican on Feb. 17, 2023. Photo © Vatican Media 12 Marian Helper • Summer 2023 • Marian.org
Marian Helper • Summer 2023 • Marian.org 13 You are our most prolific podcaster, known for “St. Faustina’s Diary in a Year” and recently reading from the writings of the Founder, St. Stanislaus Papczyński (1631-1701), and the Renovator, Bl. George Matulaitis-Matulewicz (1871-1927) — all available on DivineMercyPlus.org. Both were Superior Generals. How does it feel to be following in their footsteps? It’s awesome, and truly humbling. What an inspiration to follow these holy men and try to keep things going. But I know we’re not doing it alone. We have God’s grace, and we have their intercession. The nice thing about doing these podcasts and reading their words again is discovering how much we can still learn from them today. They both suffered a lot, and both lived the Paschal Mystery like Christ, and so they can help people like us. Their lives are a great example. They give us hope that our own sufferings won’t last forever, if we persevere. Blessed George’s command was to go out in the world and serve where the need is greatest. What does that mean to Marians today? We certainly don’t have to travel very far today to see that the needs are so great. Right here in our own country people don’t know their faith, don’t know God, and are trying to live their lives without God. We had interesting conversations during our recent General Chapter about the expanding geography of our Congregation. The central place used to be Europe, and then we spread to the United States and South America. Now we’re in Africa, India, Vietnam, and the Philippines. We had delegates from all of these places, and they could see the bigger picture. It was eye-opening for many. There are lessons to be shared and learned. My hope is that our Marian priests and brothers, wherever they are, whether they’re in parishes or shrines or other ministries, are doing everything they can to get people to know God and know and live their faith. God has a plan for each of us. As Marians, we should not limit ourselves, but see where the Lord is calling us to use our talents and do everything we can to spread the faith. How do you promote unity among a far-flung Marian Congregation? In 2026, we’re going to have a Conventus, an international meeting, to talk about vocations. Father Mark Garrow, when he was Superior General (1999-2005), had a similar gathering in Fatima on vocations, and the need is still there. While we do well in one place, other places are suffering. In Europe, for example, vocations are not as strong as they used to be, but in places like India, they are booming. Poland remains our unifier; it’s our patrimony and, as a province, still has the largest number of Marians. Our Polish priests and brothers serve all over the world. And pilgrimages to the tomb of the Founder, and the holy places and shrines associated with our heritage, will always be a source of inspiration for us. Our 350th Jubilee celebration, which concludes this year, has been a blessing, even though some of our international meetings were cancelled due to COVID. We distributed retreat books every year containing conferences for each month. It gave us an opportunity to reflect on our charisms. Maybe our three-year jubilee was meant to be on a smaller scale. Our Founder lived during times of war and plagues, and Bl. George lived during times of war. We face similar challenges. What can our Province here in the United States teach the rest of the Marian world? Two things in particular come to mind. First, vocations are doing very well here, and our Congregation could learn from our methods and outreach. Second, our very effective promotion of the Divine Mercy message, especially harnessing the internet as a tool of evangelization, including livestreamed talks and social media. The flip side of this is, the United States can learn from other parts of the Marian world, where there is a greater focus on our charism of the mystery of the Immaculate Conception, especially as Our Lady, under that title, is Patroness of the United States. Many think it’s just about devotion to Mary. It’s a much deeper mystery, the idea of God wanting to save Mary in that extraordinary way in light of her vocation, and that God wants to save all of us in an ordinary way through the Sacraments. It’s about that gift of salvation that is available to everyone. Mary is the sign for us of that openness to the gift of God’s salvation. What is your biggest challenge as Superior General? I think the biggest challenge that we have is just to continue to grow in holiness. Do what we’re supposed to do, do what God’s asking us to do, and live the life that we’re supposed to live. Please pray for me, and for all our Marian priests and brothers around the world, as we pray for all of you. Listen to Fr. Joseph Roesch’s podcasts on DivineMercyPlus.org and TheDivineMercy.org. “The biggest challenge is to continue to grow in holiness, do what we’re supposed to do, do what God’s asking us to do, and live the life that we’re supposed to live.”
The Most Rev. Joseph Roesch, MIC: Most Holy Father, the members of the General Chapter of the Congregation of Marian Fathers express their deep and sincere gratitude for this audience and assure Your Holiness of the constant and daily prayer of the entire Congregation for you and for your intentions. Every evening, in each of our communities, we pray that you will “guide the Church securely on the road to salvation.” Today’s meeting is an opportunity for us to give thanks to God for the occasion of the Jubilee of the 350th Anniversary of the founding of our religious community. Indeed, on Dec. 11, 1670, our Founding Father, St. Stanislaus of Jesus and Mary Papczyński, performed the act of Oblatio; that is, through the formula of the religious vows that he composed, he offered himself forever to God and the Immaculate Mother of the Lord. Thus, he began the foundation of an Institute dedicated to the spreading of the mystery of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God, almost 200 years before the proclamation of the dogma. ‘Continue to respond creatively’ Photos © Vatican Media On Feb. 17, 2023, Marian priests and brothers, gathered in Rome for the General Chapter, had an audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican. Following remarks from the Most Rev. Joseph Roesch, MIC, the newly-elected Superior General, the Holy Father discussed the “treasure” of the Congregation’s spirituality, urging them to follow in the footsteps of their founder, St. Stanislaus Papczyński. The two addresses are published here. The Very Rev. Chris Alar, MIC, greets Pope Francis. 14 Marian Helper • Summer 2023 • Marian.org
Marian Helper • Summer 2023 • Marian.org 15 Special moments In accordance with our founding charism, we strive today to spread this mystery of Mary and see in it the sanctity of every human life, from conception to natural death. We strive to be prophets of the eschatological destiny of every human being, and we proclaim the Gospel in every possible way. In the Jubilee of our Congregation, we are living special moments given to us by Divine Providence, especially the fact that, going back more than 100 years at a time of persecution, only one member of the Congregation remained alive. Today, we serve God and the Church in 19 countries around the world, and although we are not a large Congregation, we witness to Christ in the way of Mary, our Mother and Patroness, always the humble and little Handmaiden of the Lord. And we desire this to be our path. Your Holiness, in these days, we are celebrating the 59th General Chapter. In it, we are exploring the great gifts of God’s mercy contained in our Jubilee and in our history. We ask you to address a message to us, and we ask for your Apostolic Blessing for our service, according to our maxim: Pro Christo et Ecclesia. Pope Francis: Dear brothers, good morning and welcome! You are holding this General Chapter in the context of the 350th anniversary of the founding of your Institute, that took place in Krakow in December 1670, by the work of St. Stanislaus of Jesus and Mary. We know that it was not an easy beginning, due to the search for suitable companions and the long approval process, but St. Stanislaus did not give up, trusting in the strength of the Holy Spirit. And precisely in order to cherish the legacy left to you by his tenacity, I would like to recall with you three major features of his and of your spirituality, all marked by a lively ascetic and pastoral dynamism: love for the Virgin Mary, prayer of suffrage, and attention to the poor. Love for Mary First of all, love for Mary. It is interesting to see what St. Stanislaus teaches regarding Marian devotion: he says that the principal veneration of Mary Immaculate is imitation of her evangelical life. This is important, because true devotion to the Mother of the Lord is nurtured and grows through listening to and meditating on the Word of God: Mary is the Woman of the Gospel (cf. Mt 12:46-50). Prayer of Suffrage Second aspect: prayer of suffrage, which characterizes the eschatological aspect of your Congregation. Saint Stanislaus, however, inserts into this view of the ultimate horizon a special prayer for two large groups of the poor of his time: soldiers who fell in battle, and those who died of the plague. Today it is needed for soldiers: they are falling everywhere! Just think that in the 17th century, some 60 percent “Saint Stanislaus charted for your congregation paths of spirituality and action, well embodied in the concrete history of the men and women of his time. And it is important for you to ‘take up the torch’; continuing to respond creatively to the challenges that our age also presents.” Continued on page 16
16 Marian Helper • Summer 2023 • Marian.org of Europe’s population was exterminated by epidemics and wars! It was then necessary to pray for the souls of the dead and for the comfort of families and communities, marked by grief and mourning for the loss of their loved ones (cf. Jn 11:35-36). Attention to the poor And the third feature I would like to underline is attention to the poor, in particular in support of parish priests. The Marian Fathers thus contributed to responding to some serious problems of the time: the weakening of faith, especially among the humblest classes, the lack of priestly and religious vocations, and the state of poverty of a large part of the population (cf. Mt 9:35-38). Dear brothers, St. Stanislaus charted for your Congregation paths of spirituality and action, well embodied in the concrete history of the men and women of his time. And it is important for you to “take up the torch”; continuing to respond creatively to the challenges that our age also presents. Do not be discouraged if you encounter opposition or difficulties. Think of the great trials that your religious family has faced over the centuries, for instance when at the beginning of the 20th century, it was reduced to just one member! With God’s help you have recovered, so that today you consist of approximately 500 religious, present in 19 countries throughout the world. Fidelity to origins Let us recall, in this context, the figure of Blessed George Matulaitis (1871-1927), a Marian Father, priest, bishop, and apostolic nuncio in Lithuania, one of the key figures responsible for your rebirth. He was able to restore vitality to the community, updating the Constitutions and promoting its work fearlessly, even to the point of having to act clandestinely and risking arrest, without ever giving up promoting charity and unity among religious and among the faithful. I encourage you to keep fidelity to your origins alive in this prophetic attention to today. You have done so in recent times by including openness to the laity, the protection of life from conception to death, attention to the least, and support for families in difficulty — this is very important today, as the family is always in difficulty — among your pastoral priorities. ... Marian titles I would like to conclude our meeting today by mentioning three Marian titles with which St. John Paul II invited you to venerate Mary Immaculate. Mary “Seat of Wisdom,” so that your witness to the Gospel may be firm and solid; Mary “Consoler of the Afflicted,” that the people of our time may find love and understanding in you, and may be drawn to God by your charity and selfless service; and third, Mary “Mother of Mercy,” that you may be rich in maternal compassion for the souls redeemed by the Blood of Christ and entrusted to you. And on this, please, let us not forget God’s style: closeness, mercy, and tenderness. God is like this: He is close, He is merciful, He is tender. This is our God. A religious brother, a priest, must be close, he must be merciful, forgive everything, and be tender, not aggressive; patient and charitable every day. I wholeheartedly bless you and all your brethren. And please do not forget to pray for me. Thank you.
Marian Helper • Summer 2023 • Marian.org 17 I will make you a light to the nations — Is 49:6. Nurse Marie Romagnano wears many hats. She’s the founder of Healthcare Professionals for Divine Mercy. She’s also been crucial in fundraising for the medical and humanitarian aid that the Marian Family is providing to the victims of the unprovoked Russian invasion of Ukraine. Among that aid — including specialized medical equipment for bone fractures, head trauma, and much, much more — one particular contribution seems especially fitting, coming from the Marian Fathers and Marian Helpers: light. Let there be light! “You’ve got to have light to help to find people, to do surgery, to do whatever you have to do,” said Nurse Marie. “I became aware of the problem when the grid was attacked and all the power went out in Ukraine. Doctors were doing open heart surgery on babies with flashlights. And the more information that I received, it was perfectly clear to me we had to do something about it, and do it fast.” So Nurse Marie contacted LuminAID, founded by two grad students, Anna Stork and Andrea Sreshta. “We designed an inflatable solar lantern that could pack flat to be cost-effectively distributed after disasters,” they explain on their website. “The simple, rechargeable lantern is lightweight, easy to use, and serves as a safer alternative to hazardous candles or toxic kerosene for people without stable access to electricity.” For the past decade, LuminAID has worked with humanitarian partners across the world. That now includes the people served by the Marian Family’s aid efforts. “It was unbelievable,” Nurse Marie said. One of the founders, Andrea, called her back. “I told her what we needed, and I told her the budget, and she said fine. I explained our situation and how we’re focusing on the medical aid to those that are injured.” In the end, Nurse Marie was able to purchase 1,900 of the LuminAID lanterns. With help from Project C.U.R.E. (a humanitarian organization with long-standing ties to Dr. Bryan Thatcher and the works of mercy done by the Eucharistic Apostles of The Divine Mercy), Nurse Marie was able to find a way to get those lights to the right hands in Eastern Europe. But that wasn’t all. “From the funds from the Marian Helpers Center, I was able to purchase not only the lights, but also other specialized medical supplies,” explained Nurse Marie, including turnout kits, compression bandages, and anything that the paramedics might need on the scene. The difference you make The assistance from the Marian Helpers has made a real impact on the ground. “One time in particular, one of the Marians contacted me and said, ‘Marie, the paramedics in Kharkiv are out of medical supplies,’” Nurse Marie recalled. “This is especially distressing because the Marian Fathers have a parish in Kharkiv, and that was actively being attacked. “It just so happened that our shipment arrived the next day with specialized equipment,” she said. “And it’s all thanks to Marian Helpers and the support that Project C.U.R.E. and the Marian Fathers are able to work to get this distributed. The need continues.” Please visit Marian.org/Ukraine to make a donation for Ukraine relief. One-hundred percent of funds received are sent directly to those in need through our Marian priests in Ukraine and Poland. Shining merciful light in Ukraine By Chris Sparks
This magnificent aerial view of Divine Mercy Sunday Mass on April 16, 2023, offers a perspective of the location of the proposed Marian monastery and chapel (in the field marked by the red X) on the campus of the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy.
“Most people are unaware that our Marian priests and brothers live in five different buildings on our campus,” explains the Very Rev. Chris Alar, MIC, provincial superior. “Some of these structures are more than 100 years old and badly in need of repair.” The Shrine house, for example, was built in the 1880s and lacks efficient plumbing, electrical wiring, and insulation. The latter is deeply felt during the frigid Massachusetts winters. Moreover, when Marians from across the country visit, they sleep on cots in common areas, due to the lack of living space. Bathrooms are shared by many, and the dining room can only accommodate 20 at a time, with 35 Marians on campus. Accessibility for the disabled is limited in these older buildings. Religious in community “The present situation is not conducive to religious life,” Fr. Chris adds. “We are meant to live in community and pray, worship, and meet together. The new monastery and chapel will be a great blessing to our lives as Marians of the Immaculate Conception.” The growing number of vocations to the Marians is another factor. “We are blessed with many fine young men seeking to become Marian priests and brothers,” Fr. Chris notes. “When our postulants and novices come to Eden Hill for spiritual direction and events, we have no place to accommodate them. A new monastery will solve this problem — which is a very good problem to have!” Construction is expected to begin next year. The project was evaluated over a period of two years through personal interviews and focus groups, and an e-survey was conducted during a feasibility study by Ruotolo Associates. Once the new monastery is built, two of the current residential buildings will be renovated and re-purposed as retreat houses. “Many people have also asked about the prospect of building a new National Shrine with facilities to accommodate the growing numbers of pilgrims,” Fr. Chris says. “It’s certainly on the horizon for us. But first, from a budgetary standpoint, we must prioritize the very real needs of our Marian priests and brothers.” Investing in our future “We invite all of our Marian Helpers to participate in our ‘Together for Christ Campaign,’” Fr. Chris concludes. “While our home is much more than the building and rooms in which we gather, this campaign is a way to invest in the future of the Marian Fathers. It will not address all of our needs, but is another step to making our Marian Community, and its life stronger by caring for our gifts, and giving a return to God in gratitude.” By Dr. Joe McAleer A new vision atop Eden Hill The Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception have launched their first-ever capital campaign, “Together for Christ and His Church,” to build a monastery and chapel on a vacant tract of land at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy, atop Eden Hill in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. And your support is invited. Marian Helper • Summer 2023 • Marian.org 19 We invite you to participate in the “Together for Christ Campaign” to build a new monastery and chapel at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy. Visit TogetherForChrist.org.
20 Marian Helper • Summer 2023 • Marian.org The greatest saints of the Church have always turned to the compassionate Heart of our spiritual mother for help and solace on the road to Heaven. For example, several times the Blessed Virgin spoke about her maternal tenderness to the great Apostle of Divine Mercy, St. Maria Faustina Kowalska. As recorded in her Diary, Mary told her, “Know, my daughter, that although I was raised to the dignity of Mother of God, seven swords of pain pierced my heart” (Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, 786). On another occasion, Our Lady said to her, “I know how much you suffer, but do not be afraid. I share with you your suffering, and I shall always do so” (Diary, 25). Throughout Faustina’s life, Mary taught her that she is our true mother who understands our joys, sorrows, and needs better than anyone. Complete trust in Mary As a result, St. Faustina placed her complete trust in Mary right from the start, a childlike trust that knew no bounds. In the early pages of her Diary, for example, Faustina consecrated her whole being to Mary, entrusting her life to Mary with these words: O Mary, my Mother and my Lady, I offer you my soul, my body, my life and my death, and all that will follow it. I place everything in your hands (Diary, 79). Later, when she went to the Shrine of Mary in Czestochowa in Poland to pray there before the great icon of Our Lady, St. Faustina wrote: The Mother of God told me many things. I entrusted my perpetual vows to her. I felt that I was her child and that she was my Mother. She did not refuse any of my requests (260). Toward the end of St. Faustina’s life, Mary again encouraged her to place complete childlike trust in her by speaking to Faustina these tender words: “My daughter, at God’s command I am to be, in a special and exclusive way your Mother; but I desire that you, too, in a special way, be my child” (Diary, 1414). Our Lady and St. Faustina Mother of Merciful Love: By Dr. Robert Stackpole