Mercy-full music l Immaculate Conception 101 l Lights! Camera! Mary! WORLD OFMERCY Marians in action around the globe MarianHelper Marian.org Winter 2022-23 Inspiration and news from the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception
Wish your loved ones a blessed Christmas with our exclusive cards. They’ll be remembered in the three Masses on Dec. 25 at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy. Enroll a loved one today! 1-800-462-7426 l Marian.org/b56/sc Your offering helps support the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception. B56-SC222 Three Kings Copper Foil More than a card— it’s Three Masses on Christmas B56-SC221 At the Stable Copper Foil B56-SC223 Journey to Bethlehem Copper Foil
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. Maczynski, MIC Vol. 79, No. 4 Winter 2022-23 World of Mercy 8 Page 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 © 2022 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 Living history 27 “We must bring Christ into all things and all places, renew and revivify all things in Christ, gain all for Christ, attract all for Christ. Lord Jesus, enkindle our hearts with the fire of this zeal!” So wrote the Renovator of the Marian Congregation, Blessed George Matulaitis-Matulewicz (1871-1927). In this issue we shine a light on Bl. George’s legacy: the vast global reach and good works of the Marian Fathers and our diverse Marian Helper Family. 3 Father Joseph Writes 4 Marian Helpers in Action 6 Father Joseph’s Picks 7 Notes from Rome 26 New from Marian Press 31 Outstanding Helpers 33 Graces Received 36 From the Vaults Departments The humble crèche introduced by St. Francis of Assisi 800 years ago extends a powerful invitation to encounter Christ at Christmastime, writes Br. Eliot, MIC. Away in a manger 18 Sister Mary Florence Pelczynski, CSSF, is 98 years young and shares fond memories of her late brother, Fr. Walter Pelczynski, MIC, founder of the Association of Marian Helpers. No, it’s not the Virgin Birth. Dr. Robert Stackpole offers a primer on the dogma that the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception celebrate with special joy on Dec. 8. Immaculate Conception 101 24 Lights! Camera! Mary! 28 Film portrayals of the Blessed Mother date back 120 years to the silent era, according to John Mulderig, and vary widely in Scripture-inspired movies over the decades. 8 United States: Eden Hill and beyond 11 Ukraine: Making a difference 12 The Philippines: Mercy comes home 14 Australia: On a mission for Mum 16 Poland: To be a pilgrim 20 Vietnam: Long journey home 22 Mexico: One of the greatest Marian Helpers On the cover: Stained-glass window from the Shrine of the Birth and Baptism of St. Faustina, Świnice Warckie, Poland, from The Way of Mercy: Pilgrimage in Catholic Poland by Stephen J. Binz. See pages 16-17.
2 Marian Helper • Winter 2022-23 • Marian.org Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception The Marian Fathers are a Congregation of nearly 500 priests and brothers in 20 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 will now 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. Sign-up is easy: visit MICPrayers.org 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/PlannedGiving Call 1-800-671-2020 to make a gift by phone or for assistance. When making your 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] Hearts Afire: Parish-based Programs (HAPP ) AllHeartsAfire.org 1-844-551-3755 Intercessory Prayerline Send us your prayer intentions. 1-800-804-3823 Marian.org/prayerline Websites Marian.org TheDivineMercy.org ShopMercy.org Who We Are Other ways to support God’s mission through us R Thank you for your support Visit Marian.org/social
Father Joseph Writes My Marian brothers and I serve the Church where the need is greatest. That’s been a critical part of our work for Christ and His Church ever since the time of the Marian Renovator, Bl. George Matulaitis-Matulewicz. Of course, that’s meant the Marian Fathers have been on the march across the world ever since, spreading the devotion to Mary Immaculate, the Holy Souls in Purgatory, and the message of Divine Mercy to millions. Here in the United States, of course, we have our parishes in Illinois and Wisconsin; the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Massachusetts; and our houses of formation in Steubenville, Ohio, and Washington, D.C. Overseas, we have parishes and ministries throughout Poland and Eastern Europe, including in Ukraine. We’re present and at work in Rome, the United Kingdom, and in Fatima, Portugal. We have houses and ministries across Africa, in Cameroon and Rwanda (including Kibeho, site of incredible apparitions and miracles in the 1980s). We’re in Brazil and Argentina in Latin America, and in India, Vietnam, and the Philippines in Asia. Truly, God has blessed us richly! Visit Marian.org/Marians/ Where-We-Serve to learn more about our presence and service around the world. We don’t just support our own ministries and apostolates, but also support the Church where she is in need more broadly. One great example of this is the Marian Fathers’ collaboration with Fr. Richard Shuaibu, a priest from the Diocese of Sokoto, Nigeria. He’s been a regular visitor to the Marian communities in the United States, sharing with us his extraordinary stories of faith under fire. Recently, he went into the jungle to negotiate the release of priests and religious from their radical Islamic captors. We feared for his life. And yet, he secured the release of those he’d sought to free. We are fortunate to have his friendship and to welcome him into our communal life from time to time. But we plan to do more than that. Father Richard is also the president of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN). We encourage donations to help our Christian brethren who endure persecution in Nigeria: please help at Marian.org/Nigeria. Looking ahead, 2023 offers exciting opportunities for catechesis and fellowship, including the World Apostolic Congress on Mercy in Samoa from May 21-25, 2023, and World Youth Day in Lisbon, Portugal, from Aug. 1-6, 2023. I’ll be speaking at both, and hope to see Marian Helpers there! Thank you for the many Rosaries and Chaplets, for the Masses and swift prayers raised to Heaven. Thank you for the love and support for myself and my Marian brothers, especially during our 350th Jubilee. P.S. As we go to press, our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Puerto Rico, Florida, and other areas impacted by Hurricane Ian. We ask Mary Immaculate to intercede on their behalf as the long recovery process continues. “The sun never sets on the British Empire,” the saying went, an indication of its vast global reach and influence. Well, the same can be said about the Marian Fathers and you, our Marian Helpers. Today, we serve in 18 countries around the world, as you’ll see from the stories in this issue. Our Marian Helper Family hails from even more countries, including Australia. We’re a lot bigger and more diverse than you may think! THE SUN NEVER SETS “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 • Winter 2022-23 • Marian.org 3
The message of Divine Mercy meets Christian Rockabilly in Conversion, a part-time studio band founded by Frank Harritt, a Marian Helper in Arvada, Colorado, a suburb of Denver. The band’s newest single is called “Cup of Mercy.” “Christian Rockabilly is primarily rock ‘n roll but also folk, blues, bluegrass, and even some reggae,” Frank says. “This song simply popped into my head, fully written, after visiting my grandkids at Easter — directly from the Holy Spirit!” ‘Make God First Again’ Frank is Conversion’s rhythm guitarist and principal songwriter. His mother-in-law’s dentist, Dr. Jack Moss, is lead vocalist, arranger, and producer with years of professional experience. Rounding out the quartet are lead guitarist J.D. Hash and drummer Roman Palomino. “We are a lay Christian band and are happy to be so,” Frank explains. “We’re not Biblical scholars or Bible experts, just everyday Christians who in our spare time want to do our part to help spread the Good News of Jesus Christ throughout the world with a special emphasis on His Divine Mercy for all.” The band’s motto is “Make God First Again,” inspired by Matthew 6:33: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.” Since its founding in 2007, Conversion has been making waves on the music scene. “Mountain Man” was a semi-finalist in the 2021 International Songwriting Making Mercy-full music By Dr. Joe McAleer Marian Helpers in Action 4 Marian Helper • Winter 2022-23 • Marian.org We want You to know that we’re grateful, For the wisdom that You teach, For the grace of Divine Mercy, That’s always within our reach. Gimme, gimme, gimme, Your Cup of Mercy, Lord, please share it with us all, Gimme, gimme, gimme, Your Cup of Mercy, Lord, forgive us when we fall.
You gotta have heart, right from the start No matter what comes your way. You gotta have heart, cause we knew, from the start That God’s mercy will save the day. Harritt obtained copyright permission from the Marians to use the Divine Mercy Image as the band’s logo on their album art. “We want to generate curiosity,” he explains. “We hope listeners are intrigued and will reach out to us to learn more.” The band’s website also contains information about Divine Mercy and promotes Fr. Chris Alar’s book, Understanding Divine Mercy. Musical influences As a teenager growing up in the South, Frank played guitar and banjo. “I am 100-percent self-taught,” he says. He soaked up music as diverse as the Beatles, Bob Marley, and Led Zeppelin, not to mention Earl Scruggs on banjo and Bill Monroe on bluegrass. What do his two stepdaughters and 11 grandchildren think of his music? “They absolutely love it, especially our Christmas music,” he says. “I have dedicated a song to each of them. “We’re a little bit of everything for everyone,” Frank concludes. “This is our small way of participating in the New Evangelization, to bring people back to the faith and spread the message of Divine Mercy. Music might just be the way to do it.” Conversion The Band’s music is available online wherever music is streamed. Competition, while a Christmas song, “Christmastime in Caroline,” reached #3 in the national holiday music charts in December 2020, just behind Taylor Swift’s “Christmas Tree Farm.” Frank is most proud of winning the Fans’ Choice Award, Bluegrass category, in the 2020 Independent Music Awards for “An American Easter (The Joy of Mary M).”“Fans voted on the top five songs, and we won for a song honoring Mary Magdalene and her visit to Jesus’ tomb,” he explains. Spirit-guided A convert from Presbyterianism, Frank credits his wife of 23 years, Lyna, for his deep faith. She is a lay Dominican leader in their parish, Queen of Vietnamese Martyrs in Wheat Ridge, Colorado. “Lyna comes from a very rich Catholic heritage in Vietnam,” he notes. “When we first met I started going to Mass with her and just fell in love with the Liturgy and the prayers. Once I realized what it was all about, I wanted to be a part of it. She introduced me to Divine Mercy. We pray the Chaplet together every morning in front of the Image of the Merciful Jesus.” Conversion is an extension of Frank’s deep faith. “Every one of our 35 songs has been inspired and guided by the Holy Spirit,” Frank says. “Mercy is the common thread throughout. There’s so much ugliness and violence in the world today. We see God’s intimate and tender mercy as the ultimate answer to today’s problems. He is truly a loving Father, ready and willing to embrace us with His Love.” Their 2020 single, “You Gotta Have Heart,” is a good example: Conversion band members (clockwise from front left) Frank Harritt, J.D. Hash, Jack Moss, Roman Palomino, and guest artist Riley Tremmel.
Visit ShopMercy.org/b56 or call 1-800-462-7426. Father Joseph’s Picks by Stephen J. Binz This is the story of Catholic Poland over the centuries and the reason for its legacy of saints and churches. This beautifully illustrated pilgrimage guide is meant for those who wish to travel to Poland, those who want to remember their experiences there, and especially those who want to imagine the lovely, tragic, spiritual, and inspiring places of this land. Deep suffering, when united with the Merciful Jesus, produces great sanctity. Read, gaze, reflect, pray, and contemplate the richness of Catholic Poland. $19.95. B56-PPLM THE WAY OF MERCY: PILGRIMAGE IN CATHOLIC POLAND by Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle; illustrated by Ann Kissane Engelhart Take an Advent journey with Joseph, Anne-Marie, and Grandmother! Together, you’ll discover the story of Christmas and get ready to welcome Jesus into your own heart and home. Beautifully illustrated, this gentle, loving introduction to the true meaning of Christmas by celebrated author Donna- Marie Cooper O’Boyle will become a beloved book for every family and be revisited each holiday season. $12.95. B56-CHSB CHRISTMAS JOYWITHGRANDMA! Advent is all about preparing for the coming of the Lord. Reading and learning about our Catholic faith is an important part of that preparation. Here are some resources to enrich your walk with the Lord. NEW! NEW! 6 Marian Helper • Winter 2022-23 • Marian.org Without him, there’d be no Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception; no Stockbridge, Massachusetts, at the epicenter of the promotion of the Divine Mercy message and devotion; no Fr. Seraphim Michalenko, MIC, documenting the beatification and canonization miracles for St. Faustina, translating the Diary, and promoting the Divine Mercy around the world. Meet Blessed George Matulaitis, MIC, Renovator of the Marian Fathers. This pamphlet offers you an overview of his life, teaching, and spirituality. B56-MAIS THE RENOVATOR: BLESSED GEORGE MATULAITIS, MIC, RESCUER OF THE MARIAN FATHERS (Pamphlet) Discover the origin and meaning of the St. Benedict Medal, a powerful instrument of God’s mercy at work. If the world, the flesh, or the devil becomes overwhelming in your life, invite in God’s grace, given us by Jesus from the Holy Cross, by piously carrying or wearing a blessed St. Benedict Medal. B56-BMLT THE MEDAL OF ST. BENEDICT AND ITS VIRTUE (Pamphlet) Pamphlets: 10 for $1.60 • 100 for $14.00 • 1,000 for $100.00 NEW! NEW!
Notes from Rome By Fr. Joe Roesch, MIC Can you tell us a little about your background? I was born and grew up in a small village called Pulickanmoi. I come from a small family, just one brother. I lost my father when I was 8 years old. After high school, I joined the Marians in 2010 in Karumathur, Madurai. I came to know the Marians through a diocesan priest, Fr. PS. Sebastin, who is my vocation promoter. I was ordained in 2019 as one of the first fruits of the Marians’ work in India. During my first two years as a priest, I was appointed as a parochial vicar in a diocesan parish in order to gain pastoral experience. For the past year I have been living at our Generalate House in Rome and studying for my licentiate in the theology of spirituality in the Angelicum University, which is run by the Dominican Fathers. What are your impressions of Rome? My time spent in Rome has been very special since I am having completely new experiences. I am getting new insights, learning a new spirituality, and experiencing a new hope, a new vision, a new strength, and a new community that nourishes my vocation as well as my future ministry. I can honestly say that my stay here has been glorious! You recently went to Poland for the first time. This was the fulfillment of a longtime dream and desire of mine. I had many different experiences there. I was able to touch and to experience the places and the monasteries where our Founder, St. Stanislaus Papczynski, lived, and visit and pray at his tomb. Our Shrine dedicated to St. Stanislaus is located in Gora Kalwaria, which is not far fromWarsaw. It was one of the best places we visited and gave me unforgettable memories which I will always carry with me. Also, the museum in Marianki near the Founder’s tomb helped me to learn more about the history of the Marians. Lastly, I was able to come to know many of my Marian brothers in Poland face-to-face. Their way of living in our Marian community inspired me and provoked many thoughts and ideas. Please tell us about the Marian mission in India. Our Marian mission is blooming day by day with God’s abundant blessings. There is still much to develop, but we already see the bright growth that gives us hope for the future. At present, we are four Indian Marian priests who are preparing ourselves to be strengthened and be models for the up-and-coming Marians. So far, we are concentrating on formation and the foundation of the Marian Congregation in India from which we will spread the Marian charism and spirituality in the future. I am pretty sure that, after 10 years, there will be rapid growth of our Marian mission of India. Please keep us in your prayers! A PILGRIM’S PROGRESS In this issue, we will have a chance to meet Fr. Sebasthi, MIC (known by his nickname, Fr. Bastin), one of our first Marian priests from India who is currently studying here in Rome. Our ministry in India is our newest, begun in 2010, and is growing by leaps and bounds. Fr. Sebasthi, MIC Father Joe Roesch, MIC, is the vicar general of the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception. He lives in Rome. Listen to his new podcast, reading and reflecting on St. Stanislaus Papczynski’s book “The Mystical Temple of God,” on TheDivineMercy.org/podcasts. Marian Helper • Winter 2022-23 • Marian.org 7 Meet Fr. Sebasthi, MIC.
BUFFALO, NEWYORK — The magnificent Our Lady of Victory National Shrine and Basilica was packed with more than one thousand pilgrims on Aug. 27. They gathered for our first Buffalo Divine Mercy Conference in six years, organized with the Disciples of Divine Mercy in the Holy Face of Jesus. Attendees came from across North America and from as far away as Ireland and Guam. Speakers on the theme, “The Need for Divine Mercy,” included Fr. Chris Alar, MIC; Teresa Tomeo; Kelly Wahlquist; and Stephen Ray. 8 Marian Helper • Winter 2022-23 • Marian.org World of Mercy: united states Conference attendees Wendy Lim and Elsie Lim are members of Our Lady, Queen of the World Parish in Toronto, Canada. “Divine Mercy is the key to everything,” Wendy said. “We are big fans of Fr. Chris Alar and all the online talks.” Bishop Michael Fisher of Buffalo presided at the closing Mass. Father Chris Alar, MIC, spoke to 1,000 conference attendees in Our Lady of Victory Basilica on Aug. 27. EDEN HILL — The 12th Annual Mercy for Souls Conference was held at the National Shrine on Sept. 10. Father Dan Cambra, MIC, spoke on the Chaplet of the Seven Sorrows of the Mother of God. “Whether we’re talking about the Servites or St. Bridget of Sweden, or Medjugorje, Kibeho, Aokpe, and any number of other revelations of Our Lady of Sorrows, we’re basically talking about God’s incredible love for us,” Fr. Dan said. “God so loved us that He gave His only begotten Son, that believing in Him we may have eternal life. Because eternal life is really the only life that matters.” Father Dan Cambra, MIC, spoke at the 12th Annual Mercy for Souls Conference on Sept. 10.
Marian Helper • Winter 2022-23 • Marian.org 9 EDEN HILL — Pilgrims came from far and wide to the Polish Day festivities on Sept. 17 at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy. The Rev. Piotr Calik, vicar general for the Diocese of Springfield, Massachusetts, celebrated Mass and helped lead the traditional 3 p.m. Hour of Great Mercy devotions. In his homily, Fr. Piotr said, “Please use today and this experience as something that is changing your life. It’s not just a promise, but when you leave today, you’re going to be a better person.” Afterwards, Fr. Piotr accompanied Fr. Mariusz Jarzabek, MIC, in guiding pilgrims through the life-size Stations of the Cross. Polish Day took place on the anniversary of the death of St. Stanislaus Papczynski (1631-1701), Founder of the Marians. Polish Day festivities took place on Sept. 17 at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy. EDEN HILL — From Oct. 1, the Feast of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, through Oct. 7, the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy hosted a Rosary Congress for our home diocese of Springfield, part of the “Year of the Eucharist” observance. For one entire week, volunteers, staff, and the Marian Fathers adored the Eucharistic Lord and prayed the Rosary 24/7 in Our Lady of Mercy Oratory (below) at the Marian Helpers Center. The Rosary Congress concluded with a Eucharistic procession (above), and Mass with Bishop William Byrne of Springfield. Speaking of a long ago Eucharistic Adoration that confirmed his own vocation to the priesthood, Bishop Byrne said, “The answer to the question of every human heart was on the altar waiting. He was coming at every single Mass, as He continues to do today.” Bishop William Byrne of Springfield celebrated the closing Mass on Oct. 7.
10 Marian Helper • Winter 2022-23 • Marian.org Deacon Timothy Childers, MIC, (left) and Deacon Jason Lewis, MIC, were ordained to the transitional diaconate by the Most Rev. Roy Edward Campbell, Jr., on Sept. 3. WASHINGTON, D.C. — By this time next year, God willing, the Marian Fathers will add two new priests to its ever-growing roster. On Sept. 3, Deacon Timothy Childers, MIC, and Deacon Jason Lewis, MIC, were ordained to the transitional diaconate by the Most Rev. Roy Edward Campbell, Jr., auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Ordination to the diaconate is the next-tolast step on the journey to the priesthood. “Do the will of God and charity from your heart,” Bishop Campbell advised the ordinandi. “Serve others with joy as you would serve the Lord Himself. You must be like those once chosen by the apostles for the ministry of charity —men of good reputation, full of wisdom and of the Holy Spirit.” Deacon Timothy resides at the Marian House of Studies in Steubenville, Ohio, where he is helping form his brothers, and is working in parish ministry. Deacon Jason is continuing his studies in Washington, including Encounter Ministry training and serving as prefect of students at the Marian house of formation. Please keep both Deacon Timothy and Deacon Jason in prayer! EDEN HILL — The National Shrine of The Divine Mercy has a new Rector: Fr. Matthew Tomeny, MIC. A native of Florida, Fr. Matthew was ordained to the priesthood last year, and had been serving at St. Patrick Parish inYorkville, Illinois, and St. Mary Parish in Plano, Illinois. He is a lieutenant (junior grade) in the U.S. Naval Reserve, and in a few years will be called to active duty as a chaplain in the U.S. Navy. Father Matthew succeeds Fr. Anthony Gramlich, MIC, who now serves as Vice-Rector of Shrine Liturgy. Father Robert Vennetti, MIC, is the Vice-Rector of Shrine Events. “We’re excited to welcome Fr. Matthew back to Eden Hill,” says the Very Rev. Chris Alar, MIC, interim Provincial Superior. “His youthful enthusiasm and love of the Eucharist will enhance the pastoral care we offer to pilgrims from all over the world, who visit the National Shrine to experience God’s loving mercy.” For more information on the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy and plan a visit, call (413) 298-3931 or visit ShrineOfDivineMercy.org. World of Mercy: united states
Marian Helper • Winter 2022-23 • Marian.org 11 Make no mistake: You are making a difference in the lives of victims of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. “I would like to thank the Marian Helpers who have contributed to the sustenance of our Marians in Ukraine along with their parishioners and all of those affected by the war,” said the Very Rev. Joseph Roesch, MIC, vicar general of the Marian Fathers. “Your contributions have made a tremendous difference, allowing vital medical supplies to get to places that desperately need them. May God reward you for your generosity. Let us continue to pray for the end of this tragic war.” Father Wojciech “Wojtek” Jasinski, MIC, general treasurer for the Marian Fathers, shared that, so far, through the efforts of the Association of Marian Helpers in Warsaw, Poland, the Congregation has distributed around 50 shipments of goods (medical supplies, food, sleeping bags, and many others) —more than $1 million worth. “The shipments have been organized with the help of the Marians who work in Ukraine, and they know what’s needed,” Fr. Wojtek explained. “With the items received, they help the local communities, but also hospitals and the seriously wounded.” Recently, Fr. Wojtek sent $50,000 to the Mercy House in Gorodok, Ukraine, so the Marian Fathers there could finish additional rooms on the fifth floor to welcome more elderly people who need shelter. This is even more urgent as winter approaches. Father Wojtek added that, in Poland, the Marians help many Ukrainian refugees who stay in our parishes and religious houses. “Once again, I want to thank all the Marian Helpers around the world,” Fr. Wojtek said. “I understand that it might be difficult to keep on helping others when we ourselves struggle with various financial and personal difficulties. So, even more I would like to thank all for the support which is amazing. God bless you all.” The work goes on Project C.U.R.E., the U.S. partner working with the Marian Fathers, donated over 400 emergency beds and critically-needed medical supplies totaling over $2 million, noted coordinators Dr. Bryan Thatcher, founder of Eucharistic Apostles of The Divine Mercy, and Marie Romagnano, MSN, RN, founder of the Healthcare Professionals for Divine Mercy. “To date, with Project C.U.R.E., we have shipped 92 pallets of emergency medical equipment and supplies on 12 air cargo flights, and seven shipping containers are pending — all made possible by the generosity of Marian Helpers in the U.S.” said Nurse Marie. “This work is having such a huge impact on so many refugees, the seriously injured, and the sick,” Nurse Marie concluded. “But the need has not abated. Please continue to be there for the Ukrainian people, and be generous!” Please visit Marian.org/Ukraine to make a donation for Ukraine relief. Making a difference By Chris Sparks Mercy House in Gorodok, Ukraine, offers shelter to the frail elderly, an urgent need in the coming winter months. World of Mercy: Ukraine Click for more on Ukraine relief efforts. t
12 Marian Helper • Winter 2022-23 • Marian.org Nearly 11 years ago, a typhoon struck Mindanao, the main southern island of the Philippines. The devastation along the coastal areas of Cagayan de Oro was catastrophic: 1,800 people were killed and 12,000 families were left homeless. These poorest of the poor were literally left with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Religious congregations in the region sprang into action, including the Marian Fathers in nearby El Salvador City. Within a year, 18 acres of land were purchased in Opol, about 20 miles inland. More than 540 permanent houses were eventually built, and “Mother of Divine Mercy Village” was born. Basic needs Last year, Fr. Dariusz (Darek) Drzewiecki, MIC, was appointed administrator of Mother of Divine Mercy Village, home today to more than 4,000 people. “The village is the fruit of the generous and good-hearted people from all over the world, represented by the missionaries working here,” Fr. Darek says. “In the beginning we focused on construction. Today we focus on the basic needs of the people.” By Dr. Joe McAleer A rendering of the newMother of Mercy Chapel, which will seat 364. At left, construction is under way. ‘I can think of no better way to mark the 15th anniversary of our mission in the Philippines in 2023 than the newMother of Mercy Chapel, which will place the Eucharist and the Merciful Jesus permanently at the heart of this community.’ New chapel will crown a thriving village Mercy comes home World of Mercy: The Philippines
Those needs range from providing clean drinking water to education, including school supplies and scholarships for young people to attend college. A livelihood program offers job training. During the pandemic, when work was scarce, providing food was a priority. “These works of mercy opened the people to the spiritual dimension of life,” Fr. Darek notes. “This past year, we baptized 70 adults, some over 70 years old. We were able to reconcile 20 couples who were in irregular marriages, bringing them into the Church. We had over 200 young people in our Confirmation class. And we have many days of recollection for young people, who are very open to learning more about the faith.” Spiritual revival With a spiritual revival well under way, the Marians are now spearheading a new construction project at the heart of the village: the Mother of Mercy Chapel. “We celebrate Masses in a multipurpose building that was constructed over 10 years ago and is in poor condition, even in danger of collapse,” Fr. Darek explains. “A new chapel will give us safety and comfort. “But more than that,” he continues, “I hope to attract new churchgoers. The chapel will become the heart of the village with a permanent presence of the Blessed Sacrament in an Adoration Chapel. That alone will transform the atmosphere in the village and offer protection against many evils, including drugs and other forms of addiction.” Divine Mercy The devotion to Divine Mercy in the Philippines is strong, with the 3 o’clock Chaplet broadcast on radio and television. Divine Mercy gained a foothold in the country thanks to the Marian Fathers, who printed simple prayer cards and distributed them to American servicemen during World War II. As they passed through the Philippines, they passed on the cards — and the rest, as they say, is history. The Marian mission began in 2008, spurred by the beatification of the Founder, St. Stanislaus Papczynski. This was the sign the Marians needed to accept the invitation from Church officials to establish the Congregation in the Philippines. Today, five Marian priests serve in parishes, where they promote the message of Divine Mercy and Mary Immaculate, with particular attention to families. Mercy means learning to trust and restoring hope. “Our goal is to bring back the confidence, cheerfulness, self-esteem, and spirituality of these people who, through no fault of their own, faced a very challenging turning point of their lives,” says Fr. Darek. “Through your support, you can be an instrument sent by God to shepherd these people back to where they are supposed to be, according to the plan of God.” Anniversary gift Groundbreaking of the new chapel took place in June. Construction of the 364-seat building will be completed next year, in time for the feast of Our Lady of Mercy on Nov. 16. “I can think of no better way to mark the 15th anniversary of our mission in the Philippines in 2023 than the consecration of the new Mother of Mercy Chapel,” says Fr. Wojciech Jasinski, MIC, general treasurer of the Marian Congregation. “I hope our Marian Helpers will support his project, which will place the Eucharist and the Merciful Jesus permanently at the heart of this community, inspiring young and old.” To make a donation to the Mother of Mercy Chapel project, visit Marian.org/MercyChapel. Father Darek Drzewiecki, MIC, village administrator, poses with the First Holy Communion class. Below, Mother of Divine Mercy Village is home today tomore than 4,000 people displaced by natural disaster. Marian Helper • Winter 2022-23 • Marian.org 13
14 Marian Helper • Winter 2022-23 • Marian.org On a mission for Mum Gerard Young was on a mission. He had traveled more than 17,000 miles from his home in Australia to Stockbridge, Massachusetts, and he was carrying a letter for the Very Rev. Chris Alar, MIC. “My family back home is really thrilled, because I wasn’t even sure if it was possible to come and meet Fr. Chris,” Gerard said. “I actually planned to come anyway. I said, ‘I’ll just go and hope he’s there.’” Gerard was in luck. On Aug. 30, after an arduous day of travel — by air from California (his first stop in the U.S.) to NewYork, then a train to Albany, and a rental car for the drive to Stockbridge —Gerard arrived at the Marian Helpers Center at 4 p.m., weary but elated. And Fr. Chris just happened to be there. Now that the pandemic has subsided, pilgrims have been returning to Eden Hill in large numbers, seeking grace, inspiration, and serenity at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy. In Gerard’s case, he came to fulfill a last request from his mother, Margaret, who died on July 25, age 83. Extended Catholic family Margaret and her husband, Peter, 84, raised nine children in the Hunter Valley, farm country about two hours north of Sydney, Australia. Married for 59 years after meeting at a Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) social, they have 24 grandchildren. Rather remarkable for this day and age, all of the Young children continue to practice their Catholic faith, as do their children. “We had family Rosary every night, the last act before bedtime,” Gerard recalled. “And of course we would go to church every week, and we had good Catholic schools. Gerard Young journeyed 17,000 miles from Australia to Eden Hill to see Fr. Chris Alar and deliver a message. World of Mercy: Australia By Dr. Joe McAleer
Marian Helper • Winter 2022-23 • Marian.org 15 “I just really think it comes down to example more than anything. We saw Mum and Dad being accepting to people and mindful of the poor, open to what happens in life, and taking the good with the bad.” Recent years took a toll on the couple. For the past two years, Margaret had suffered from stage 4 cancer and was confined to her home. Peter has mobility issues and is in a nursing home. “We would bring Dad down frequently so they could spend time together,” Gerard said. “On their last visit, they received Holy Communion together. It was nice for that to be their final shared experience.” A letter fromMum Margaret had a great devotion to Our Lady, and was aware of the Marian Fathers and the message of Divine Mercy. She was also a fan of Mother Angelica and EWTN. “A couple of years ago, when the pandemic was in full swing, we were looking for things for Mum to watch at home,” Gerard said. “Mum was always very Marian-focused. She discovered Fr. Chris’ talks onYouTube, and really connected with his messages. He’s so enthusiastic. He’s pretty amped up and a great communicator. He’s giving a lot of solid faith teaching, but in a way people can understand.” Soon Gerard and his two sisters, who took turns caring for Margaret, gathered around to watch Fr. Chris’ “Explaining the Faith” talks. “Mumwas so impressed and she was always talking about Fr. Chris,” Gerard continued. “I said to her, ‘Well, I get over to America every once in a while. I won’t get there for a while now, thanks to COVID. But on my next trip, why don’t you write down a few words and I’ll hand-deliver a letter to Fr. Chris for you?’” Margaret did just that. And she added a set of Rosary beads. “She had been praying the Rosary with those every day, and she wanted Fr. Chris, if he met someone in need, to pass them on,” Gerard explained. “He could pay it forward and say, ‘These belonged to someone who really believed in the Rosary.’” “This is one of the most touching stories,” Fr. Chris told Gerard. “It’s an honor and a blessing to have someone who sounds like such a wonderful lady to watch our programs and be tuned into the message of Divine Mercy. God’s Providence worked it out for her last request. “Margaret’s note says that she learned so much about our faith,” Fr. Chris continued. “I’m honored to be part of that and know that she offered up her sufferings for the salvation of souls. To think that we could be a part of that is just amazing.” Prayers for Australia After taking a photo with Gerard, Fr. Chris promised, “I will offer Margaret up in prayer along with you, your dad, the entire family, and, in fact, all of our friends in Australia. I am always happily surprised by how many letters I get from Australia.” As the sun set on Eden Hill, Gerard left, seemingly walking on air, with a broad smile and the knowledge that his beloved mother would be pleased. “It was a promise I had to keep,” he said. “I mean, everyone loves their mother, but I just knew I was very lucky.” Peter and Margaret Young were married for 59 years.
16 Marian Helper • Winter 2022-23 • Marian.org To be a pilgrim, in Catholic Poland As Divine Mercy is manifested throughout the universal Church, the spotlight continues to shine on the nation of Poland. Today, the people of Poland are hosting millions of evacuees from their war-torn neighbor, Ukraine — caring for them in their own homes rather than depositing them in refugee camps. The people of Poland remember well their own suffering in the 20th century when they were assaulted fromNazi Germany from the west and oppressed by the communism of Russia from the east. But out of terrible suffering comes remarkable sanctity. During those dark decades arose the witness of great saints like Faustina Kowalska, Maximillian Kolbe, and Pope John Paul II. The trials of the Polish people throughout the 20th century made Poland the martyr of the nations, or in St. John Paul’s words, the “Golgotha of the modern world.”Yet, these sufferings have been transformed by God into a gift of mercy for the world. And it seems to be the special mission of the Polish Church to be a witness of that gift and the bearer of the grace of Divine Mercy for our times. Travel discoveries I’ve been leading pilgrimages for over 30 years, but only in the past decade have I discovered the holy land of Poland. My first trip to Poland was led by a Jewish survivor of the Holocaust, the late Eva Mozes By Stephen J. Binz Pilgrims at the Divine Mercy Shrine in Płock, where St. Faustina saw Jesus. Visit ShopMercy.org/b56 to order The Way of Mercy: Pilgrimage in Catholic Poland (Product code B56-PPLM) by Stephen J. Binz. World of Mercy: Poland
Marian Helper • Winter 2022-23 • Marian.org 17 Kor. She taught me about the rich Jewish tradition of Warsaw and Kraków, the tragedy of the ghettos, and the Nazis’ “Final Solution.” After being tortured at Auschwitz by the Nazi doctor Josef Mengele, later in life she chose to free herself from bitterness by forgiving all her persecutors. My next trip to Poland was during the Jubilee Year of Mercy, called by Pope Francis for 2016. During that year I wrote a Bible study entitled Divine Mercy, presented 30 parish missions on the theme of God’s mercy, and finally led a pilgrimage of eager Catholics to explore the sites in Poland associated with some of the merciful 20thcentury saints: Faustina, Kolbe, and John Paul. Now I regularly lead groups on pilgrimage through Poland, each time being enriched by more places, history, and sanctity in this fascinating land. And this year, as the culmination of my biblical study on mercy and my travels through Poland, I’ve written a book, The Way of Mercy: Pilgrimage in Catholic Poland (Marian Press, 2022). I know that for many reasons people are unable to travel on a physical tour of Poland, but everyone can take an armchair pilgrimage through the cities, churches, and shrines of Poland, and so explore the rich tradition of mercy and sanctity with which this land is blessed. A nation of saints Pilgrimage is a unique kind of travel: it requires eyes open to new sights and a heart open to being changed. Whether you are an adventurous traveler (preparing for a physical journey to Poland), or an imaginative traveler (visualizing the places of this land from an armchair), the experience of pilgrimage is transformative. The goal of pilgrimage is to allow the saints, shrines, and prayer to deepen your faith and form you more fully into disciples of Jesus. Poland is the ideal land for learning the art of pilgrimage. Its history and culture is deeply religious; it is filled with memories of some of the Church’s best-known saints; and famous churches and beautiful shrines cover the landscape. The sacramental imagination distinctive to Catholicism allows us to experience God’s invisible, immaterial, and universal presence through the visible, material, and particular places. Through the lives of the saints and events of sacred history, certain places have come to be viewed as holy sites where the veil between Heaven and earth is particularly translucent. Increasingly, more and more pilgrims from throughout the world are discovering Poland as the ideal place for a transforming encounter with God. As I’ve explored Catholic Poland, I’ve come to realize that the climactic events of the last century were only possible because of the rich Christian tradition of over a thousand years in Poland. The patron saints of Poland, like St. Wojciech, St. Stanisław, and St. Jadwiga, are the sturdy pillars supporting the Church of Poland through the ages. On the shoulders of these faithful giants, the Polish saints of our era stand. They are some of the earliest of that remarkable cloud of witnesses — the martyrs, bishops, confessors, and holy ones — that has sustained the faith of Poland throughout its history. Likewise, I’ve discovered other saints, perhaps less well known than the most ancient and the most recent. I realize that there could never have been a Cardinal Wojtyła without a Cardinal Wyszynski, fortifying the church as it passed through the fire of totalitarian rule. The inspiring insights of St. Faustina in the 20th century flowed from the beautiful compassion for the poor exhibited by St. Albert Chmielowski in the 19th century. And Poland became a free country again at the end of the 20th century, not only because of the witness of Pope John Paul II, but also because of the martyrdom of Blessed Jerzy Popiełuszko. All of these heroic saints are strands of the golden thread of Divine Mercy woven through the fabric of Poland’s history. The Kanonicza Street residence of Karol Wojtyła, priest and professor, in Krakow, 1952-1967. Poland is the ideal place for a transforming encounter with God.
In my childhood, I viewed Christmas as a mere time of expecting presents. As I got older, I have slowly been drawn to view Christmas and the whole Christmas season as a time of encounter. What does that mean? Well, turn to the year 1223, when a man named Francis of Assisi was in a small Italian town called Greccio. A Franciscan friar named Thomas of Celano records Francis’ time in Greccio in a collection of historical documents known as The Franciscan Sources. The first crèche Fifteen days before Christmas, Francis asked a local townsman named John to help him fulfill his desire. Francis said, “I wish to do something that will recall to memory the little Child who was born in Bethlehem and set before our eyes in some way the inconveniences of His infant needs, how He lay in a manger, how, with an ox and an ass standing by, He lay upon the hay where He had been placed.” John went with haste to prepare all the things Francis had told him. On Dec. 25, many Franciscan friars came to Greccio, along with many others from the local town who prepared with torches to light up the special night. Thomas of Celano records the event in the following way: The people came and were filled with joy over the new mystery. The woods rang with the voices of the crowd By Br. Eliot, MIC Away in a manger 18 Marian Helper • Winter 2022-23 • Marian.org Photo by Ben White on Unsplash
and the rocks made answer to their jubilation. The brothers sang, paying their debt of praise to the Lord, and the whole night resounded with their rejoicing. The saint of God stood before the manger, uttering sighs, overcome with love, and filled with wonderful happiness. The solemnities of the Mass were celebrated over the manger and the priest experienced a new consolation. Even more astonishing is that one person present that night saw a vision of a little child lying in the manger, lifeless. The person saw Francis go up to the infant and rouse the child, as if he was waking them from a deep sleep. Thomas of Celano believes that this vision was fitting, inasmuch as “the Child Jesus had been forgotten in the hearts of so many; but, by the working of his grace, he was brought to life again through his servant, St. Francis, and stamped upon their fervent memory.” When the solemn night celebration had come to a close, the people returned to their homes with holy joy. Even though the special celebration had ended, the Lord continued to work favors for the people in miraculous ways. Thomas of Celano records that the hay that was placed in the manger was kept and given to the beasts of burden and other animals. When these animals throughout the surrounding region ate some of the hay, the animals that were sick were freed from their illnesses. He also records that “indeed, even women laboring for a long time in a difficult birth were delivered safely when some of this hay was placed upon them; and a large number of persons of both sexes of that place, suffering from various illnesses, obtained the health they sought.” Gathered in joy This story has inevitably had a major impact on so many. It is from this story that the tradition of the Christmas crèche began. It is because of this story that thousands of Nativity sets are put up each year for Christmas, as Pope Francis acknowledged: “This is how our tradition began: with everyone gathered in joy around the cave, with no distance between the original event and those sharing in its mystery.” The story has helped me to encounter Christ, too. Growing up, I was privileged to live near a Franciscan friary that would reenact a live Nativity scene with real animals each year. It is the Nativity scene that evokes a number of mysteries in the life of Christ and makes them tangible in our daily lives. One crucial aspect of the celebration that took place in 1223 has to do with the Eucharist. Recall that Thomas of Celano said, “The solemnities of the Mass were celebrated over the manger and the priest experienced a new consolation.” In the full story, Thomas of Celano recounts that St. Francis of Assisi preached at the Mass and “spoke charming words concerning the Nativity of the poor King and the little town of Bethlehem. Frequently too, when he wished to call Christ Jesus, he would call Him simply the Child of Bethlehem, aglow with overflowing love for Him.” The Mass celebrated over the manger that night in Greccio showed the bond between God becoming Man and the Eucharist. Encountering Christ In imitation of that first Nativity scene, keep the Mass in Christmas! One terrific way to do this is to enroll the names of your loved ones to be remembered in the three Masses at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy this Christmas. If you have never done this before, you might even consider making it an annual Christmas tradition to honor your loved ones. It is with great joy that I encourage you to “encounter” Christ this Christmas. There is nothing stopping Christ from coming to you in the wondrous way He did in the little town of Greccio nearly 800 years ago. I also encourage you to be a beacon of light and joy to others this Christmas season. May we, too, follow in the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi and enkindle a love for the Child Jesus in the hearts of those who may have forgotten Him. I pray that this Christmas is filled with divine “encounters” with the living Christ for both you and your loved ones! Marian Helper • Winter 2022-23 • Marian.org 19 We invite you to send us your intentions for the Three Christmas Masses on December 25 at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy. Visit Marian.org/b56 to have your intentions remembered.