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Meet the Shrine's New Rector

Father Anthony Gramlich, MIC, Lays Down the Welcome Mat

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When asked to describe with one word what it means for him to be appointed the new Rector of the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy, Fr. Anthony Gramlich, MIC, a former high school wrestler conditioned in the art of taking necessary action, eschewed adjectives and went straight for a verb.

"To serve," said Fr. Anthony, who took over the reigns of the Shrine, in Stockbridge, Mass., on Jan. 1.

"The number one priority as the Rector is to serve God's people and to give them the message of The Divine Mercy," he said. "I always say — so that I don't get a big head on my shoulders — that the Blessed Virgin Mary is the true Rector of the Shrine because she will always be here leading us to Jesus. Right now, I'm just trying to do God's will of leading people to Jesus with her."

In one of many new appointments throughout the Marians' American Province, Fr. Anthony replaces Fr. David Lord, MIC, who served as Rector for four and a half years. Father David is now serving at a Marian parish in Darien, IL.

Father Anthony credits Fr. David for improving the spiritual life of the Shrine through the many new programs and events he helped institute. They include a daily Holy Hour and Rosary for Life; a monthly Festival of Praise; a Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception; the Music on the Lawn series in the summer; and specific days of celebration such as St. Faustina Day in October and Hispanic Day in August. Father David also helped reinstitute the annual "Marian Week" celebrations from August 15-22.

"Preaching and liturgical worship were given a whole new emphasis under his leadership," said Fr. Anthony. "He set a certain tone here that I hope to build upon."

Primary among Fr. Anthony's plans is to put an even greater emphasis on the Divine Mercy message as a source of healing for those who are lost in sin and estranged from God.

"Jesus' mercy is the answer to human problems," said Fr. Anthony. "People are looking for answers in their lives, and they can find it through the message of The Divine Mercy. No matter what they've been through, no matter what mistakes they've made, even if they have one foot in hell, Divine Mercy can still rescue them. It's the lifeline for people. It doesn't require us to be saints. What it requires is a humble and contrite heart."

Specifically, Fr. Anthony — through preaching and programs — hopes to establish the Shrine as a place of healing for those who have experienced an abortion or who suffer from addiction.

In March, the Shrine will host a retreat for Rachel's Vineyard, the Pennsylvania-based group that offers spiritual outreach to women and men suffering from post-abortion trauma (PAT). He has also invited Alcoholics Anonymous to use the Shrine's facilities for its weekly meetings.

The very purpose of the Shrine, said Fr. Anthony, is to provide a spiritual refuge for people so that they may refocus their lives and turn to God in trust.

"There's something special about this place," said Fr. Anthony, 34, who joined the Marians in 1995 and who served as the Shrine's Vice Rector since May of 2006 and as its Assistant Rector for two years prior to that. "God is present here. Pilgrims who come here for the first time are always telling us that. He's touching, healing, and reaching out to people. I believe that's the reason so many people who come here wind up going to confession."

Speaking of refuge, Fr. Anthony hopes to have a new field altar built on the south lawn of the Shrine, where the Marians host their annual Divine Mercy Sunday celebrations (usually, it seems, in the pouring rain).

"I'd like to call it an outdoor shrine to St. Faustina," he said. "Really, at this point, it's a necessity. The early spring weather here in the Berkshires makes Mass very difficult, and the altar could be something we use throughout the year."

Other plans include instituting a "Filipino Weekend" to acknowledge the huge impact the Filipino community is having on the spiritual life of the Church and, in particular, the spread of Divine Mercy.

"They come to visit us throughout the year in large numbers, and I'd like to dedicate an entire weekend here geared specially for them as a way for the Marians to say 'thanks,' " he said.

Born in Delran, NJ, the fourth of five children in a close-knit family, Fr. Anthony says he felt a call to turn to God during the summer after his freshman year at a state college. He yearned for something more meaningful. He began reading about Marian apparitions. He joined a prayer group at his local parish where he was introduced to the Rosary and the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy.

He returned for his sophomore year forever changed. In his dorm room, where beer bottle caps were once fixed to the walls, he promptly hung a picture of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus, to the shock of his college buddies.

Until his graduation, it was a difficult period for him — being a believer in a secular environment. But he now recognizes it was a period that helped equip him for the special challenges he faces as a Catholic priest.

"Here I am, the Rector of the Shrine, where thousands of people come each year, many searching for meaning in their lives," he says. "I can sympathize with people. I understand the struggles people are facing out there. God wants us to serve them. It's essential."

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Fr. Joe - Jan 4, 2007

It looks to me like Fr. Anthony will be a fine Rector! I'll never forget the day he made his first vows. Continue to preach God's mercy, I am praying for you!

Marie-Nurses and Doctors for Divine Mercy - Jan 5, 2007

Welcome Fr. Anthony! I am very happy to see your focus on healing those suffering from abortion and addiction but also through the wonderful
sacrament of Confession.
With coming to the Shrine for over 20 years now, I believe it is a Spiritual Emergency Room and the real healing of the heart takes place through Jesus, The Divine Mercy in Confession. Each pilgrim that comes to the Shrine of Divine Mercy is helped by Our Lady to come to Jesus and the true "lifeline" of Jesus is firmly planted in their hearts with a good confession. So come to the Shrine and if you are too far away, go to confession! Jesus I Trust In You!

Brother Leonard Konopka M.I.C. - Jan 6, 2007

Congratulations Fr. Anthony...

Great to know that the direction of the Shrine is in such capable hands...no doubt it will prove to be an even greater oasis in the year to come.

Your efforts will be supported by our Marian community prayers.
God's Mercies be with you always!!!

Lynne in Boynton Beach, Fl. Sun., Jan.7,2007 - Jan 7, 2007

Good luck Fr. Anthony! I know the Shrine is in excellent hands! May JESUS, MARY, and JOSEPH continue to be your GUIDES!!!!!GOD BLESS YOU ALWAYS!!! IN HIS PEACE, Lynne

Father James Joseph Sucholet - Jan 7, 2007

Congratulations Father Anthony!!!
Continue to build the Shrine up in more devotions and spread the Divine Mercy Message to all in the Northeast & beyond! I am a Diocesan Divine Mercy promotor (Diocese of Norwich, CT USA) and Pastor of St. John Church, Middletown, CT. May Saint Faustina guide you in all your work! "JEZU, UFAM TOBIE!"

Father David Lord, MIC - Jan 11, 2007

AVE MARIA!

Dear Father Anthony,

Hello from Darien!

Father James and I arrived today to join Father Walter at Our Lady of Peace, what an awesome name and place.

God Bless you in you new assignament. I am confident that God and Our Lady will use your spiritual Fatherhood to radiate his mercy to countless numbers who are in need of hearing over and over again that "Jesus Christ is the answer to the question that is every human life". (John Paul, the Great)

as ever

Father David

fr. rey - Jan 11, 2007

Greetings from the National Shrine of the Divine Mercy - Philippines and Congratulations!
We are happy to hear of Fr. Anthony's plan to render a special weekend for Filipinos. We hope we could be one with you in "serving" and propagating the devotion and message of the Divine Mercy together with the Filipinos over there.
The Mercy of God will always be with you!

In Jesus we trust,
Fr. Rey San Juan
Rector
National Shrine of the Divine Mercy - Philippines

Fr. John L., MIC - Jan 12, 2007

Hey old fellow-novice. This is quite a change from the days of mowing grass and cleaning windows at Brookeville, but now you have to keep track of the whole operation!

Congradulations.

Michael Fields - Jan 15, 2007

Hey Novice brother! From Novice brother #2. Since its pretty hard to get this rector on the phone, I just wanted to say, "Awesome: Let God's Mercy Reign" !!! And reign...Congrats!

Sr. Monica - Jan 25, 2007

+ PAX

Congratulations Dear Fr. Anthony! You will do very well as Rector of the Shrine.
I shall always remember your wonderful Masses and homelies at the Visitation Monastery while I was there. May we pray for eachother as we embark on our new journeys in God's service. I will be entering a Benedictine Monastery in April.
God Bless you always!

Rosemary A Pivinski - Mar 12, 2007

Congrats Fr. Anthony! I'm so glad you followed your love of the Savior & have succeeded in your call. God bless you! You've come a long way from our humble college days! =)

Fr. Joshua Janko - Mar 27, 2007

Dear Fr. Anthony...
I met you last summer when I was on a pilgrimage with my Dad and nephew. I was ordained on June 3, 2006 for the Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana. You allowed me to con-celebrate a Mass there at the Shrine. I thank you for that. And now, you are the new rector. You will certainly be in my prayers. Happy Lent, Holy Week and Easter. May Mary the Immaculate one guide and protect you as you do her Son's work. Sincerely yours in Christ, Fr. Joshua Janko (Associate Pastor St. Maria Goretti Westfield, IN)

Mrs. D. Victoria Rose-Baumer and Family - Apr 10, 2007

Shalom and A Holy Easter Season to you Fr. Joe
Please count on our famiy's prayers for you and all
there and I beg your Prayers for us too,
Thank You and God Bless you

Christine Ziemski-Zaroba - Apr 15, 2007

Dear Fr. Anthony:
I have been blessed in attending mass at the Shrine &, to meeting you. May your prayers, hopes & dreams to bring God's children closer to the Divine Mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ be fullfilled beyond your wildest expectations. Our Blessed Mother will always be with you. God Bless you & all at the Shrine.
Your Friend in Christ
Christine Ziemski-Zaroba
p.s. Divine Mercy Sunday is very special to me as I was married before God on the 1st official Divine Mercy Sunday - April 22nd, 2001, as decreed by His Holiness Pope John Paul 2nd