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Photo: Felix Carroll

On Jan. 1, 2011, Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC, (right) succeeded Fr. Seraphim Michalenko, MIC, (left) as director of the Association of Marian Helpers. Father Michael hopes to follow the examples set by Fr. Seraphim and the late Fr. Walter Pelczynski, MIC, seen in photo, top left. "To follow in the footsteps of men like these is humbling and an honor," Fr. Michael says.

Meet the New 'Father Joseph, MIC'

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By Dan Valenti (Mar 3, 2011)
He's young for the job, but he's advanced in knowledge. Meet the new "Father Joseph, MIC," director of the Association of Marian Helpers. He's Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC, 34, who on Jan. 1 took over as director from the renowned Fr. Seraphim Michalenko, MIC.

Father Seraphim, 80, will be devoting his time to studying and writing about Divine Mercy. Father Michael will be devoting his time to "doing everything I can to get the message of Divine Mercy to more and more people."

Father Michael, author of the book Consoling the Heart of Jesus, says he does not have an overriding philosophy for the position or a preconceived agenda. Instead, he's listening, learning, and applying.

"I'm just getting started," he says, with typical humility. "I'm excited to begin this mission."


He says he will rely heavily on the talented staff at the Marian Helpers Center, from where the Association is run. The staff includes many skilled workers: printers and designers, artists and writers, technicians and program planners. As he puts it, "There's a tremendous amount of experience here. I pray for the wisdom and prudence that I may be able to benefit from the experience of others and to take the time to know how to employ the accumulated wisdom here."

Father Michael has spent the past year on Eden Hill, where the Association and the Marian Helpers Center are located and from where the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception administer the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Mass.

"Over the last year, I've learned a lot about the amount of talent we have here and the resources we can bring to bear on our work," Fr. Michael says. "That's what gives me confidence going into this position."

The new Father Joseph also says he absorbed a lot about leadership from playing sports in high school and college, including baseball, basketball, soccer, volleyball, golf, football, and others. Father Michael says the fundamental lesson from competition, especially in team sports, is that "camaraderie is formed based on the commitment to succeed. The way you lead is by giving the team 110 percent of what you have. When others see you giving your all for the good of all and that you have team spirit, it inspires the other players. It's contagious."

He says the most exciting thing about beginning as the new Father Joseph is that, unlike in sports, where you give your heart for personal and temporal glory, spiritual effort is given "from the heart for what I believe is the most important message for humanity in our time: the message of Divine Mercy. The efforts concern the glory of God, and the effects last forever."

Father Michael has words of praise for the man he succeeded, Fr. Seraphim.

Father Seraphim, one of the world's foremost authorities on the message of Divine Mercy, has given Fr. Michael what the latter calls the perfect role model: "Fr. Seraphim has provided the best example of somebody who has worked so hard, for so long, not for himself but to see the fruits of his work, which is spreading the message of Divine Mercy on behalf of the Church and through it to all humanity."

Father Michael also singled out for praise the example set by the late Fr. Walter Pelczynski, MIC, longtime Father Joseph and a man who worked his entire priestly life in sacrifice for the Church and for telling the world about Jesus as The Divine Mercy.

"To follow in the footsteps of men like these is humbling and an honor," Fr. Michael says, adding that he "wants to be like them" in taking up the vital spiritual task without hesitation and without holding back.

Father Michael acknowledges his new role is a "serious responsibility, because [it involves] a deeply sacred, important message — the message that God loves you and that God forgives you, as soon as you turn to Him, no questions asked. He forgives and He forgets.

"I love the message of Divine Mercy, and I want to share it with as many people as possible," Fr. Michael says. "Divine Mercy is the sort of message many people haven't heard before. Many don't understand that God forgives. They need to know."

Father Michael makes a request of all Marian Helpers: "Please pray for me, that I may do the Lord's perfect will in spreading Divine Mercy."

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Lynne-Marie - Mar 3, 2011

Welcome, dear Fr. Michael, and be assured of many, many prayers as you spread this most important message of God's unfathomable mercy. I think St. Faustina's quote of today echos your prayer: "I desire nothing but to fulfill God's desires. Lord, here are my soul and my body, my mind and my will, my heart and all my love. Rule me according to Your eternal plans" (Diary, 492).
Thank you, dear Fr. Seraphim, for your untiring devotion to spreading our Lord's message of mercy. May God bless and guide both of you, always.

Yvonne - Mar 3, 2011

Congratulations Fr Michael. May the Good Lord and his Mother bless you abundantly in your new assignment as Fr Joseph. May you tire zealously to spread our Lord's message of Mercy and draw as many souls to his Fount of Mercy.

Thank you Fr Seraphim for your untiring zeal in spreading this devotion. May the Good Lord bless you with good health.

MARIA C. - Mar 4, 2011

Welcome and Praise the Lord for your leadership, Fr. Michael. Our prayer group here in Brantford, ONTARIO will keep you in our prayers. Without the leadership of priest like you, our Catholic faith will never grow in unity and love for Christ. You are a great example for the future priest anywhere else in the world with your love for the Blessed Mother and of course our Divine Mercy, Lord Jesus Christ. I feel blessed to be able to speak to you and help in any way I can. Count on us either thru prayers or financial help (as much as we can afford).
May God's Blessings of Love, Mercy and Peace be with you always.
Thanks as well to Fr. Seraphim and our continued prayers are with you as well. Good luck and God Bless you on your future endeavors.

Maria P. (Canada) - Mar 6, 2011

Welcome and thank you Fr. Michael for your "fiat" to the priesthood. I pray that many young men will follow your example. It is evident that you want and others "to console the Heart of Jesus". What a magnificent book! Some priests, friends, cenacle and our little spiritual motherhood for priests group are benefitting from it. Thanks and blessings!

Fr. Seraphim, thank you so very much for your tireless effort in bringing the greatest message of our century to the world. In my heart, you are another Blessed Fr. Michael Sopocko. Bless you always!

Kathy--Leesburg Fl. - Mar 11, 2011

I saw Fr. Mike on EWTN this morning. I think he is FANTASTIC! So young to write a book. I have just started with my Divine Mercy studies. I want to get your book. I like the idea of collecting the info you want to remember but forget where it is. I will be praying for you as Bridgett is.

Barbara - Mar 11, 2011

Dear Father Michael -
Just this morning, I saw your program with Ralph Martin and Peter Herbek on EWTN. What a grace and blessing!
Your witness was life changing to me and I pray for you and your priesthood and that the Holy Spirit will continue to work through you profoundly!

Alicia Mosher - Mar 11, 2011

Congratulations Fr. Michael! I watched you this morning on EWTN it was a wonderful show. Your quote was amazing as you heard from the Lord in your heart, "Will you quench my thirst for souls!" My eyes watered up and tears flowed you have an amazing call on your life! May God Bless you and the Divine Mercy

Joseph. - Mar 12, 2011

Dear Father Michel,
It is always a great pleasure to know that the Marians of the Immaculate conception has a profound devotion to the Devine Mercy and its appostle Saint Faustina Kowalska of Poland and I am writing this testimony based on a miraculous personal experience which happened during my visit to the Devine Mercy Chapel of the sisters of OLM in Lagiewniki, Krakow, Poland. I visited the Chapel on 6th September, 2010 with a view to be with the Lord on His Mum's birthday on September, 8 and I returned home back to England on 9th September, 2010. From 5th August I was praying for the 33 Miners of Chile and I wrote down the following prayer on the sheet provided for prayer requests at the entrance of the Chapel. " Lord, Jesus, to honour the 33 years of your life on earth and to honour the 33 years of life of your beloved servant Saint Faustyna in Poland, preserve the 33 lives of the miners of the Coppiappo, San Jose Mines in Chile". On October, 13 while watching the rescue of the 33 miners on the 69th day of the tragedy, I realised the awesome wonder that I was living in ROOM No.69 of the Mercy House. Again, I found that apart from the month of the Holy Rosary and the Feast of Saint Faustyna, this October was a very special month. It has 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays and 5 Sundays which is said to happen in 823 years, a blessed October to remember for all generations to come. On the occasion of the Canonization of Edith Stien (October 11, 1998) Holy Father Pope John Paul II said, " Do not accept anything as truth if it lacks love; and do not accept as love anything which lacks truth". The story of the miners is a story of both love and truth. The sign of a living God, mighty enough to save those who seek him, even from the deepest dungeon.
May Lord Jesus bless all who spread the message of His DEVINE MERCY. JEZU UFAM TOBIE.(JESUS I TRUST YOU).

Santo - Oct 25, 2011

Fr. Michael, I watched you in the pews while the Divine Mercy Chaplet was said on EWTN. You were not yet a priest. Now I read you are leading the Divine Mercy Shrine. What a turn of events. Bring to us new servants like you to tell of God,s mercy. Thanks Santo

Suzanne - Mar 4, 2012

Fr. G -- God has blessed and chosen you for this mission. Back in the day on CR, you spoke of His Mercy in a way that completely changed my vision of Him. When those words took root, it meant the difference between my growing in faith or spiritually dying in despair. God bless you, Fr Mike!

James in Perth - Nov 3, 2013

Dear Fr Michael, I just listened to "The Second Greatest Story Ever Told" and thought is was wonderful. Thank you for sharing this story and may Jesus and Mary continue to bless your ministry.