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Shrine's New Rector Is a Familiar Face
By Felix Carroll (Aug 28, 2014)
At a time when its national profile is in steep ascent, the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy has a new rector quite familiar with the challenges and triumphs of its trajectory.
In one of many new appointments throughout the Marians' American province, Fr. Anthony Gramlich, MIC, has replaced Fr. Ken Dos Santos, MIC, in the rector position. Father Ken, who served as rector since 2011, was appointed provincial secretary.
This is Fr. Anthony's second tenure as Shrine rector. When asked to describe what the position means to him, the former high school wrestler with a natural instinct for the fundamentals eschewed adjectives and went straight for a verb.
"To serve," he said.
"There's all the behind-the-scenes responsibilities — budgets, finances, scheduling, overseeing a staff, being formator of the seminarians here — but those things all lead up to that one goal of providing spiritual service for the thousands of people who come here each year," he said. "That's our top priority: to bring people to Jesus, to bring people to Divine Mercy."
In his previous tenure as rector, Fr. Anthony was credited for helping to expand the Shrine's reputation as popular pilgrimage destination. He helped oversee the construction of the Mother of Mercy Outdoor Shrine and the Shrine of the Holy Innocents. Annual ethnic days such as Encuentro Latino became among the region's largest Catholic gatherings. He hosted the first retreats here for Rachel's Vineyard, the Pennsylvania-based group that offers spiritual outreach to women and men suffering from post-abortion trauma. Those retreats continue to this day.
Since his previous tenure, the Shrine has become home to a life-size Stations of the Cross, a huge draw for both Catholic pilgrims and art-minded tourists to western Massachusetts. The partnership between the Shrine and Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) has become closer. In addition to EWTN's broadcast of the Shrine's annual Divine Mercy Sunday celebration, the global Catholic network now airs a Stations of the Cross program filmed at the Shrine.
Primary among Fr. Anthony's plans is to put an even greater emphasis on ensuring that Marian priests and brothers are available to pilgrims — for spiritual guidance, tours of the grounds, and talks on Divine Mercy and the Blessed Mother.
"We will take every opportunity to educate people that St. Faustina's Divine Mercy revelations are a message given to the modern world to address the pain, suffering, and sins that define our brokenness," he said. "Jesus' mercy is the answer to human problems. No matter what anyone has been through, no matter what mistakes they've made, Jesus can still rescue them. He doesn't require us to be saints [before He'll help us]. What it requires is a humble and contrite heart."
Until his latest appointment began on Aug. 15, Fr. Anthony spent much of the last three years traveling the country giving parish missions, speaking at conferences, and leading healing Masses and pilgrimages. Still, the Shrine served as his home. He hopes to help increase awareness that it can serve as spiritual home to all those who seek God.