Br. Leonard Konopka, MIC

Washington, DC

"Have mercy on them all and draw them to Your Sacred Heart"

Having been brought up in a very religious family, I learned very early about the great value of faith and service. And I wasn't alone.

Out of a family of seven, four of us chose religious life. The seeds of our vocations had been planted very early. I remember, for example, being taken to a Benediction Service at our church one Christmas day and finding that we were the only family there. My parents gave us a strong message!

To this day, I can still vividly recall the Masses, the Marian devotions and rosaries, and the stations of the cross during Lent. And I will always remember our pastor who, on each First Friday, chiseled into my memory the prayerful words to the Sacred Heart: "Many have never known You, others have rejected You and despised Your precepts. Have mercy on them all and draw them to Your Sacred Heart." It bothered me that anyone could reject God, and I was determined not to let that happen to me.

From the Sisters who taught me in school, I learned that the meaning I was searching for in my life could only be found through service to others. Upon this foundation, I grew in my love and respect for the Church and in my desire to build a personal identity based on service.

When I became acquainted with the Congregation of Marians' devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the merciful, Sacred Heart of Jesus, and learned about the Marians' motto of service "For Christ and the Church," I sensed this was where I belonged.

After 40 years of service as a Marian brother, I have no regrets, for it has brought meaning to my life and an intimacy with God that I could not have found in any other way.