The newly formed Marian Missionaries of Divine Mercy, based at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Mass., embark on a month-long national tour on Monday, Aug. 4, stopping in a dozen towns and cities to share the Divine Mercy message with local Catholic communities.
The coast-to-coast tour, which begins at the Shrine and concludes on Sept. 5 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., is geared to strengthen community at parishes, engage fallen away Catholics, and raise awareness for the Marian Missionaries' initiative.
A joint ministry of Lighthouse Catholic Media and the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception, the Marian Missionaries are a brotherhood of single men who give at least one year to God and our Blessed Mother to grow in holiness and put the works of mercy into action.
"Jesus tells us through St. Faustina, 'You are to show mercy to your neighbors always and everywhere. You must not shrink from this or try to excuse or absolve yourself from it,'" says Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC, the Missionaries' head formator, quoting from the Diary of St. Faustina, entry 742. "The Marian Missionaries consist of young men seeking to answer that call, who seek to show their love for Jesus by ministering to those in greatest need of Jesus' mercy. The task is huge. But so is their love for God."
The tour includes stops at parishes in:
• Rock Island, Ill., includes a Divine Mercy Youth Night;
• McHenry, Ill.;
• Fargo, N.D.;
• Rapid City, S.D.;
• Brighton, Co.;
• Alta Loma, Calif.;
• Chandler, Ariz.;
• Spring, Tx.;
• Gulf Breeze, Fla.; and
• Chantilly, Va.
Nearly 10 of the Missionaries will be joining the tour, traveling in a 15-passenger van loaded up with prayercards, Divine Mercy images, and other materials they will distribute along the way. With members of the parish, a typical day will include street ministry, door-to-door evangelization, talks to youth groups, Mass, community prayer, and a fellowship gathering at the parish. Evenings will conclude with sharing experiences from the day's events and a special talk from Fr. Gaitley and/or Fr. Chris Alar, MIC, the director of the Association of Marian Helpers.
The Marian Missionaries of Divine Mercy and Lighthouse Catholic Media are sponsoring the Divine Mercy tour. It was Lighthouse's founder and president, Mark Middendorf, who first conceived of the Marian Missionaries while praying before a Divine Mercy image at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy.
Since then, several young men have joined the Missionaries. Beginning earlier this year, the Missionaries have performed works of mercy throughout the Northeast, including:
• spending time with the homeless through a ministry of presence and friendship;
• giving talks to youth groups and at parishes;
• visiting and comforting those in nursing homes, hospitals, and prisons;
• praying at abortion clinics and cemeteries; and
• praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy for the conversion of unrepentant sinners, especially those who are dying.
"The ministry's task is to take the light of faith found at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy and introduce it into the lives of those in greatest spiritual and material need," says Eric Mahl, coordinator for the Marians' Evangelization and Outreach programs.
He says, "Our Lord is speaking to our hearts, telling us not to be simply a light in a room that's already lit. We want to be a light in someone's own darkness within their lives. We want to be a light in the darkness, not so that we are seen, but so that people can see Christ."
To learn more about the Marian Missionaries of Divine Mercy, visit their website setallafire.org.