Photo: Felix Carroll

Father Michael Gaitley, MIC, celebrates his first Mass on Sunday, Oct. 17, 2010, a day following his ordination at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy.

For Christ and His Church

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With a pledge to dedicate his life preaching the Gospel for the glory of God and the sanctification of His people, a "son of Mary" was raised to the sacred order of the priesthood as a Marian Father of the Immaculate Conception.

Offering praise and thanksgiving to God Almighty, Deacon Michael Gaitley, MIC, became "Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC," on Saturday, Oct. 16, in a standing-room-only Mass for Ordination at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Mass.

+ + + View a photo gallery of the weekend celebration. + + +

"It's been a long road," said Fr. Michael, 34, following the Mass. "But there have been so many people praying and sacrificing for me along the way. I feel grateful to them for their prayers and for their words of consolation and encouragement during these years. And I ask people to continue to pray for me — that I may be an instrument of His mercy for others."

The Main Celebrant and Ordaining Bishop was His Eminence Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington. A man with an informal style and contagious smile, Cardinal McCarrick gave Fr. Michael words to live by.

Follow the teaching of the Gospel, His Eminence said in his homily, and "believe what you read, teach what you believe, and put into practice what you teach. That is the challenge of every priest. ... Always remember the example of the Good Shepherd who came not to be served but to serve, to seek out and rescue those who are lost."

Cardinal McCarrick also reflected on the Gospel reading of the day, from John 15:9-17 in which Jesus teaches His disciples the means by which to achieve joy: "Love one another as I love you." Cardinal McCarrick implored Fr. Michael to minister with joy — always.

"There's no room in the Church for a priest who is not joyful," he said. "By word and example thereby build up the house that is God's Church."

A Marian on the Move
As everyone who knows Fr. Michael can attest, joyfulness is his hallmark. It's been said of him that he "works like a dog but plays like a puppy." Frisbee and skateboarding serve as ballast to the long hours he puts in of study, prayer, writing, preaching, and pastoral work.

In February, he published his first book, Consoling the Heart of Jesus (Marian Press), now in its second printing and quickly becoming a modern spiritual classic. In the meantime, he's become a much-sought-after speaker on The Divine Mercy message and devotion. He has just recently completed a companion guide to his book.

Not least of all, Fr. Michael has already been tapped for a major leadership position within the Marian Congregation. His Provincial Superior, the Very Rev. Fr. Dan Cambra, MIC, has named Fr. Michael the next "Fr. Joseph, MIC," to succeed Fr. Seraphim Michalenko, MIC, when the latter steps down this year. The title "Fr. Joseph, MIC," is given to the director of the Association of Marian Helpers, the Marians' spiritual benefit society.

"He's going to be excellent," said Fr. Dan. "He's going to revive the Association, and it's very exciting."

For the Glory of God
From an early age, Fr. Michael seemed destined to do great things for the glory of God.

He recalls how, when he was 5-years old, he was inspired by the movie "Chariots of Fire" — particularly the scene in which Eric Liddell says, "I want to run for God." Father Michael said he wondered at the time, "Can I run for God, too?"

Indeed, the moment proved particularly poignant when, following high school — and following a prayer for direction to St. Thérèse of Lisieux — he turned his back on an opportunity to attend sunny UCLA and enrolled at Franciscan University in the rust belt of Steubenville, Ohio. There in Steubenville, he felt the call to give his life to God, marking the beginning of 14 years of formation, a time of faithfulness, struggles, and perseverance.

"I would tell my children, 'Walk to the beat of a different drum,'" said his mother, Linda. "I urged them, 'Don't follow the way of the world, but keep on the path toward God.' That's always been my hope. Michael has done that. He's well balanced. He has an intensity to serve. He's prayerful, spiritual, but he's also zany and has a joy in his heart."

The Church Made Stonger
The family members, friends and fellow Marians who packed the Shrine for the Ordination Mass have no doubt of Fr. Michael's unwavering desire to make present the divine reality of God.

"He is definitely called to the priesthood," said Fr. Michael's longtime friend Rebecca Urban of Lancaster, Mass. "The world and the Church are fortunate to have him, and the Church just got stronger as a result."

"My husband and I are so excited that the Blessed Virgin Mary was able to complete what she started," said Fr. Michael's mother Linda. "It's such an exciting day for us, to see his faithfulness to his calling coming to fruition."

Calling Fr. Michael a spiritual "son of Mary," Fr. Dan also thanked the Blessed Virgin Mary "for giving us another brother."

Before he was officially ordained, before he lay prostrate out of humility before God, before the laying on of hands, before the prayer of ordination, before he was anointed and handed the bread and wine, the priest-to-be stood up.

He was the only one standing as he made his priestly promises before God to:

• with the help of the Holy Spirit, discharge without fail the office of the priesthood in the presbyteral rank, as a worthy fellow worker with the Order of Bishops in caring for the Lord's flock;
• exercise the ministry of the Word worthily and wisely, preaching the Gospel and teaching the Catholic faith;
• celebrate faithfully and reverently, in accord with the Church's tradition, the mysteries of Christ, especially the sacrifice of the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation , for the glory of God and the sanctification of the Christian people;
• implore God's mercy upon the people entrusted to his care by observing the command to pray without ceasing; and
• be united more closely every day to Christ the High Priest, who offered Himself for us to the Father as a pure sacrifice, and with Him to consecrate himself to God for the salvation of all.

While he made these promises, Fr. Michael's family was seated behind him — his mother, his father Michael, his sister Heather, his brother Joe, and his in-laws, nephews and nieces.

His friends were behind him, too — friends from coast to coast. And his co-workers, too — the laity and the religious.

"May God who has begun the good work in you bring it to fulfillment," said Cardinal McCarrick.

The Marians' newest priest has God by his side and many people behind him.

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NANCI - Mar 9, 2012

Fr. Gaitley's books have meant so much to me! Consoling the Heart of Jesus- using Holy Mother's perfect prayers, her heart (not mine, which is so flawed). Asking Holy Mother to lift me to her Son Jesus on the cross to console Him- it is because of her that I can approach Him. If I have a thought that frightens me or a thought that I do not want to have I simply give it to my Holy Mother because she knows exactly what to do with it! Currently I am reading 30 Days to Morning Glory... Thank You so much, Fr. Gaitley!

Bill Zirzow - Apr 1, 2011

Thank you for your devotion and passion for the divine mercy. I was blessed to have heard you at the mens conference in Columbus Ohio. I have shared your message countless times to many thirsty souls, and I am now here with my wife to visit the shrine tomorrow in person with a list of souls to pray for. May God Bless and thanks so much for your inspiration.

Tom Dlugolecki - Mar 11, 2011

Keep going strong. There are many of us who are motivated by your example. There are many of us older guys who will find our ministries where we are in life and your example will help.

Bob King at Our Sunday Visitor - Nov 5, 2010

Congratulations Fr. Michael! I was fortunate to have met you and have a wondeful conversation with you at NCDC in Chicago this year. I know that you will bring many souls to our Lord. May Jesus and Mary bless your priesthood always.+

Carleen Pierce, Stanley, New York - Nov 2, 2010

Fr. Michael, Congratulations! My family and I will continue to keep you in our thoughts and prayers. Please keep us in your prayers too as we are introducing the Divine Mercy to our parish. It was a pleasure meeting you and speaking with you at the St. Faustina festival in October. Wishing you all the best as you enter into this stage of your spiritual journey!

Daisy - Oct 31, 2010

Fr. Michael, my sister and I heard you speak in Madison, NJ on Oct.26 and I wanted you to know what an inspiration the story of your father was to me. I have had a devotion to the Divine Mercy for a few years now but your story made me more aware of how crucial it is to never stop praying for those we love. I have a family member who is lost in the devestating world of drug addiction - a young man who when not using would tell me of his love for God, and his desire to make his life right. My heart breaks for him because he is once again lost in his addiction - and I don't know how to help him - but I will not give up praying for him - if you could pray for him once in a while I would be so grateful. Your love for God and your excitment to teach others about God shone through so beautifully that night in Madision. I pray that you always be blessed with kindness and a loving heart towards others in your mission to spread the word of the infinite love and mercy of our Lord. I'll keep you in my prayers.

Davy Family - Oct 30, 2010

You made it! We so wanted to be there but remembered you in prayer many times that day,Father. We have been blessed knowing you as one of our favorite Marians. We will be in line for that first blessing some day. Maybe Michael will bring some chapstick.

Donna Lorusso Waterbury CT - Oct 28, 2010

Fr.Michael, I visited the Shrine the day after your ordination, and I was hoping so much to see you. St.Faustina made it happen, and I was absolutely overjoyed at receiving your blessing! You had a beautiful day, the birthday of St.Maria Goretti, and the "holy adhesive" held the foliage in place! God bless you with a priesthood rich in His Love and Joy. You are in my prayers.

Andrea from Summit, NJ - Oct 27, 2010

Thank you for sharing your vocation story with us last night at St. Vincent's in Madison, NJ. You were a true surprise as we were there for Divine Mercy and to pray with Fr. Groeschel. Congratulations on your ordination and may God continue to bless you with superabundant mercy.

Leonard Chappell. U.K. - Oct 26, 2010

Just discovered news of Father Michaels ordination.
Congratulations Father Michael, God Bless you always. please say a small prayer for me.

Chiara from Italy - Oct 26, 2010

Thank you father Michael, you are a gift from God for all the people you meet in your way... Dio ti benedica don Michele.

Aunt Alice and Uncle Dave - Oct 22, 2010

I have never been so proud as I am today god bless you and keep you in his joy and peace always. I love you

Annelle Leblanc - Oct 22, 2010

Thank you Father Michael for your book "Consoling the Heart of Jesus." I use it every day. Congratulations on becoming a priest.... and continue to bring to Jesus the weak and little souls.

listener - Oct 22, 2010

by becoming a MIC priest, I think you gave Jesus "retroactive consolation" - while he was on the Cross...
now you will be a spiritual father of many children, and some will become MIC's like you! be a good priest, always offering your daily prayers as an oblation of the Virgin Mary.

Sister Jane M. Abeln SMIC - Oct 21, 2010

I agree with everything said in the article about Fr. Michael's ordination. When I knew him as a student at Franciscan U. of Steubenville, he already had such a deep relationship with Jesus. I think his new book must have developed from a talk I heard him give then on the Heart of Jesus. I do rejoice at Fr. Michael's ordination because he will truly be another Jesus.

Joyce Shea - Oct 21, 2010

Praise God! Another beautiful priest brought to us as a gift from God!

Jerome Kiley - Oct 20, 2010

Congratulations Fr. Mike, what a special culmination of your journey - I bet it consoles the Heart of the Lord! It is a joy to walk with you along the way, even at a distance.

noel pb - Oct 20, 2010

thank you Fr. Michael for Your Ministry for your reward will be indeed be Great

Patty O'Toole - Oct 19, 2010

May God bless and protect you always and may you always feel the mantle of MamaMary's love enfolding you, Father Mike. You will remain in my prayers. +Peace and love

Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC - Oct 18, 2010

Congrats, bro! Another California dude in the Marians! Thank you Jesus and Mary! Slowly but surely, we are inching toward the west (best) coast! So wish I could have been there, but I was speaking at a Men's Conference in Texas with Patrick Madrid. May Jesus and Mary bless your priesthood and make it abundantly fruitful! Stay stoked!

Fr. Andy Davy, MIC - Oct 18, 2010

Peace Bro! You have no idea what a blessing you are to our congregation. May the Lord continue to work through you to bring many souls to encounter the healing reality of God's love for them.

Rebecca U. - Oct 18, 2010

One could feel God and all the saints in Heaven rejoicing at your ordination. How blessed the Church is to have you as a priest. What a pleasure it will be to now call you "Father."

Kathleen Roesch - Oct 18, 2010

The readings for the twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time, the day of your First Mass, focused on perseverance in prayer.How appropriate, for you surely did that to reach the glorious goal of Holy Priesthood. May you continue in this vein and fulfill all your promises to God, and desires to be faithful. You are in my prayers. Congratulations!

Fr. Joe Roesch, MIC - Oct 18, 2010

I am very proud of you Fr. Michael. It has been a long road. I remember meeting you in Steubenville in 1997 and thinking you would make a good Marian! Praise God for your ordination!

Br. Angelo Casimiro, MIC - Oct 17, 2010

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you (Jer 1:5a)." I had the great blessing to be asked to serve as the book bearer at Fr. Michael Gaitley's ordination this past weekend and so I was there right next to him as he was ordained to the holy order of the priesthood by Cardinal McCarrick. What a glorious weekend it was for his family, his friends, and his Marian brothers. May God continue to bless you, Fr. Michael, as He uses you as an instrument to draw little souls to Himself through your priesthood.

Frank Dagostino - Oct 17, 2010

I cannot remember when I was so happy with the ordination of a priest as I am with Fr. Mike's. May you always know the Love of God for you, the protection of the Blessed Virgin, the intercession of our dear St. Faustina and the love of all the people you touch and will touch by your ministry. And as an aside: I absolutely LOVE your book.

Marie Romagnano, RN; Healthcare Professionals for Divine Mercy - Oct 17, 2010

These last two days witnessing with great joy, the addition of Fr. Mike to the priesthood at his Ordination and First Mass was a privilege. May your priesthood be blessed and protected by Our Lady and may you radiate mercy throughout the world.