Photo: Felix Carroll
The Marians of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary are a small Congregation — about 500 priests and brothers in all. Yet their impact on the world has been immeasurable.
"The Lord is using us, this little community, to spread this message of His mercy," said Fr. Joseph Roesch, MIC, who spoke at the Divine Mercy conference Saturday morning that kicked off the Divine Mercy Sunday Weekend celebration at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Mass.
About 150 people attended the conference, which was held at nearby Monument Mountain High School. Father Joe said the task of his talk was to give "a taste" of the work being done by the Marian Congregation.
Founded in 1673 in Poland, the Marians now serve the needs of the Church in 19 countries, of which the Philippines is the newest mission.
Father Joe, who was ordained to the priesthood in 1991, shared a slide show of some of the trips he's taken since he was appointed to the Marians' General Council in Rome.
"It's truly awesome to see what God is doing, and especially to see what He is doing to spread the message of His merciful love in so many places, because our world needs His mercy, as we all know," he said. "Now is the time for mercy. It's been just a privilege for me to see how this has been happening around the world."
Since their founding, the Marians' charism has been to spread devotion to Mary as the Immaculate Conception; offer their our lives for the Holy Souls in Purgatory, especially the victims of war and disease; and operate publishing apostolates and assist where the need is greatest in parishes, shrines, schools and missions.
Their newest charism is as the official promoters of the authentic Divine Mercy message, a task the Marians undertook beginning in 1941. Indeed, Fr. Joseph Jarzebowski, MIC, brought the Divine Mercy devotion to the United States from Poland.
By 1953, some 25 million pieces of Divine Mercy literature had been distributed around the world by the Marians, headquartered on Eden Hill, in Stockbridge, Mass., home of the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy.
Of the many Marian missions around the world, according to Fr. Joe, the newest in the Philippines is particularly exciting. That's not only because of the zeal with which so many Filipinos have embraced the message of The Divine Mercy, but also due to the Philippines' geographic proximity to the rest of Asia.
"You have a billion people in China and nearly a billion people in India," Fr. Joe said. "The Lord wants to spread His mercy to these countries, to let them know of His love and mercy."
He added, "We meet many priests from Korea and Vietnam and other Asian countries who go to the Philippines now. They go to learn about their Catholic faith and then bring that back to their own countries. One of the things we hope to do in the Philippines will be to open a retreat center there, to train lay leaders and religious leaders from the different countries in Asia so they can bring this message back home to their countries and begin to help us spread it throughout the world."
In addition to a retreat center, the Marians hope to build a Marian seminary in the Philippines as well as a Marian Helper Center where they can begin to spread the message of The Divine Mercy through materials published in the many languages of Asia.
The Philippines' embrace of Divine Mercy all started with prayercards printed by the Marians on Eden Hill in Stockbridge. United States servicemen brought these prayercards with them to the Pacific Theater during World War II, and the message and devotion soon took root in the Philippines.
The slide show included photos of processions of smiling Marian missionaries and smiling Filipinos. There was also a photo of a foot-long gecko with whom the Marian missionaries share a cabin in the Philippines.
"And there's Fr. Don Calloway with perhaps the largest moth in the world, residing in the Marians' cottage," said Fr. Joe as the crowd laughed.
"It's very interesting — missionary work," said Fr. Joe.
He added, "Pray for us and our work, and may all of you have a grace-filled Divine Mercy Sunday!"
Learn more about Marians around the world.
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