Fr. Angelo Casimiro, MIC

Postulant director and rector of students

Marian House of Studies, Steubenville, Ohio


Learning in the School of Trust

As a newly ordained priest with the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception, I am often asked about how I received my vocational call. It comes down to two words — Mercy and Mary. At the age of 36, I found myself looking for something more in life. I was living in southern California. I was working as a graphic designer. I had a nice apartment, and I enjoyed being with family and friends. But I felt like something was always missing.

Born and raised Catholic, I looked into other religions when I was younger but just never had the desire to leave the Church. I really didn't understand my faith, so I was just going through the motions. In 2000, my best friend went through a profound spiritual conversion or reversion experience. He turned on the radio in his car and started listening to a program about something called The Divine Mercy. Mind you, my friend had also been born and raised Catholic but had never heard of The Divine Mercy. He got together with me and couldn't stop talking about it. However, it just turned me off, and I couldn't believe all the claims about God's mercy that he was making. It sounded too good to be true.

My friend continued to talk to me about the Catholic faith and would give me books to read on The Divine Mercy, St. Faustina, Marian apparitions, and related topics. I still couldn't make sense of it all until one day he persuaded me to attend the Medjugorje Peace Conference in Irvine, Calif. That conference totally changed my life. Probably because of my friend's prayers for me to Jesus through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, my heart was slowly opening up to let the Lord come inside.

It happened during Eucharistic Adoration where I came face to face with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. I saw people falling on their knees and crying. It touched me deeply, so I asked the Lord to help me see what they saw. I went through the rest of the conference and remember waking up the day after feeling like I had been spiritually transformed. All I wanted to do was to go to Mass, pray the Rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet, and learn more about my Catholic faith. Our Lord and Our Lady had caught my heart, and there was no turning back.

About six weeks later, I took a pilgrimage to Medjugorje in Europe (where the Blessed Virgin Mary has reportedly been appearing since 1981) during the week of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. I went through a deeper conversion there and remember spontaneously praying The Divine Mercy Chaplet with some of the people in my pilgrimage group. I was fascinated with this image of Jesus and the red and pale rays coming from His Heart. Where had I seen this before? Then I remembered visiting my aunt in the Philippines in 1997. I went to Sunday Mass at her parish, which was The Archdiocesan Shrine of The Divine Mercy! Back then, I was also really struck with this image of Jesus but didn't know what it meant.

It was immediately after coming back from my pilgrimage when I started to sense that maybe God was calling me to the priesthood and religious life. Even though I didn't know it at the time, the Lord and Our Lady had enrolled me in the school of trust. I didn't fully understand what was going on within me spiritually, so I started going to daily Eucharistic Adoration to discern my vocation. Talking to the priests in my parish helped me in my discernment, so I started looking into different religious orders. However, part of me still didn't feel worthy to become a priest or religious. But then I came across these words from St. Paul: "But He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness'" (2 Cor 12:9). It is this scripture passage that continues to sustain me.

In 2002, I entered a religious community, and the first place that they sent me was to a mission in Belize, Central America. It was something I would have never dreamed of doing before, but I discerned that it was God's will. I trusted that He would take care of me. The time that I spent in Belize was a valuable learning experience, and I wouldn't trade it for the world. The Lord taught me a lot about trusting in His merciful love when I was there. One time I almost drowned in the river, but the Lord and Our Lady were looking out for me. The time that it happened was during the Hour of Great Mercy — at around 3 p.m. I attribute my life being spared to The Divine Mercy through the intercession of Mary.

After Belize, I was sent to Corpus Christi, Texas to study philosophy. It had been years since I was in college, so again I trusted that the Lord would look out for me and help me with my studies. I ended up doing better in my courses than I thought I would. However, after being in this particular religious community for about a year and a half, I discerned that it was no longer where God was calling me. So I came back home to California to continue to discern my vocation. I found a new parish and asked one of the priests to be my spiritual director. He helped me to grow in the spiritual life by taking me through the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola.

When I did my initial investigation into the different religious orders, the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception came up, but I never really followed up with them. So I decided to look at them again and talked with the vocation director. I attended a vocation retreat in Stockbridge, Mass., and I immediately identified with their dedication to spreading The Divine Mercy message and their veneration of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which were very instrumental in my spiritual conversion a few years before.

So I applied to the Marians and was accepted as a postulant in 2005. In that year, I finished up my philosophy requirements at Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio. A year later in August 2006, I entered the Marian novitiate in Washington, D.C. The novitiate was again a time of learning in the school of trust and falling deeper in love with the Lord and Our Lady. On Aug. 15, 2007, I made my first profession of vows as a religious brother in the Marian Congregation at The Divine Mercy Chapel in Brookeville, Md. It was a day filled with an outpouring of consolations from the Merciful Lord and Our Lady.

From August 2007 to May 2011, I studied Theology at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C., where I graduated with a Masters of Divinity degree. During my first year of theology, I was blessed to have attended the beatification of our Marian founder, Blessed Stanislaus Papczynski. It was also during that time that I lost a wonderful spiritual father and mentor, Fr. Mark Garrow, MIC, who had been my novice master and house superior in Washington, D.C. In the summer of 2009, Fr. James Cervantes, MIC, and I spent a couple of months at our Marian mission in the Philippines. Later that year in the month of December, I lost my dear mother, Susie, to breast cancer. My family and I were blessed to have had four of my Marian brothers attend her funeral.

On Aug. 16, 2010, I made my perpetual profession of vows as a religious brother in the Marian Congregation at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Mass. It was one of the happiest days of my life. Then on Jan. 8, 2011, I was ordained a transitional deacon at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. Finally on July 2, 2011 (the Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary), I was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Martin Holley at the Shrine in Stockbridge. That date was significant for two other reasons: Bishop Holley was ordained to the episcopacy on July 2, 2004, and it was also on the same exact date that I visited Stockbridge for the first time. Talk about God-incidences. I am currently serving as an associate pastor at our two Marian parishes in Kenosha, Wisc. — St. Peter's and Holy Rosary — where I continually live by the words, "Jesus, I trust in You."