Marian Helpers stand with Marian Fathers and Marian Missionaries of Divine Mercy on the day Lighthouse Catholic Media closed on the Merrell Inn.
New Home for Marian Missionaries of Divine Mercy
A blessed day as (from left) director of the Association of Marian Helpers Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC; local ordinary for the Diocese of Springfield, Mass., Bishop Timothy McDonnell; and founding member of the Marian Missionaries of Divine Mercy Eric Mahl stand in the newly blessed Merrell Inn.
Tuesday, May 20, the feast of St. Bernardine of Siena, was a red-letter day for the fledgling Marian Missionaries of Divine Mercy, a new ministry of the Marian Fathers that serves the poor, prisoners, and parishes throughout the Northeast. In partnership with the Marians, Lighthouse Catholic Media purchased the historic inn, conveniently located in Lee, Mass., less than two miles down the road from the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy, in Stockbridge, Mass.
The Merrell Inn, built in the 1700s, now serves as the Missionaries' headquarters and living quarters.
"It's incredible that there's a home for these guys who really want to give themselves for a year to discern their vocations and perform the works of mercy," said Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC, director of the Association of Marian Helpers, based in Stockbridge, "and it's such a beautiful property. It's going to be a great home for the Marian Missionaries."
The Marian Missionaries of Divine Mercy offer a year-long opportunity for young Catholic men to do works of mercy, spread the message of Divine Mercy, and help start the Hearts Afire programs in parishes. The Missionaries serve under the pastoral care of the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception.
"We're going to continue to do works of mercy, going to Boston, New York, and Newark, but now that we're in Lee, we also want to focus on being a presence of God's mercy locally," said Eric Mahl, coordinator for the Marians' Evangelization and Outreach program. "This property is going to allow us to discern what God wants us to do to spread His mercy locally, whether it's in a nursing home, meeting shut-in neighbors, meeting the homeless that straggle through the Berkshires, or start Hearts Afire programs locally in the parishes. Not only taking God's mercy to places that have great need of His mercy, but also finding places where God wants to use us."
"The inn also allows the young men to have the opportunity for discernment," said Eric. "We can have community life, get to know each other better, and have a structured prayer life consisting of meditation, spiritual reading, and formation. I think a lot of us are always longing for community, the sense of brotherhood, and people who are supporting you, helping discern what God wants for you in the future."
Bishop Timothy McDonnell, the local ordinary for the Diocese of Springfield, visited the Merrell Inn on Wednesday, May 21, after concelebrating Mass at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy with Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, the former personal secretary of St. Pope John Paul II. Bishop McDonnell blessed the Inn and gave approval for the Blessed Sacrament to be kept in the proposed chapel in the Inn.
This unique contribution to the new evangelization is the fruit of the collaborative relationship between the Marian Fathers and Lighthouse Catholic Media. Founded in 2005, Lighthouse Catholic Media is an Illinois-based not-for-profit specializing in promoting the Catholic faith, primarily through presentations in both English and Spanish on audio CDs and MP3s from notable Catholic speakers.
"When he found out that Lighthouse had purchased the Merrell Inn for the Marian Missionaries of Divine Mercy, Fr. Seraphim earlier today said something along the lines of, 'Well, that makes sense,'" recounted Fr. Gaitley, referring to Fr. Seraphim Michalenko, MIC, the world-renowned expert on Divine Mercy who served as vice-postulator for the canonization cause of St. Faustina. "Since 1944 when he first arrived [in Stockbridge], every time he passed by here, it was the object of his particular attention. He just felt that there was something about this place. He always wanted to go in and visit it, and it never really worked out. He was always drawn or felt close to this place. When he found out that Lighthouse had purchased it for this purpose, he was very happy, especially that the closing day was the anniversary of his ordination."
And Fr. Mike noted that the closing also fell on the feast of St. Bernardine of Siena, the great preacher and reformer who began his work of personal sanctification and service to Christ early in his life. Fr. Mike's saint calendar app on his phone included the following thought for the day: "Bernardin[e]'s achievements before he became a Franciscan show what the young can achieve if given the chance. Let us try not to confirm them in a culture of enforced irresponsibility, but to encourage each of them to give to others whatever they have been called into this world to give."
Father Michael appealed to all Marian Helpers and people of good will for prayer for the new initiative. "I think this has promise to reach many," he said, "but again, the goal with the Marian Missionaries is to be a place of discernment experience, for young men to come out of the world and have time to dedicate to works of mercy, growth in their faith, and faith formation."
To learn more about the Marian Missionaries of Divine Mercy, please visit marianmissionaries.org.