'Like the Father of a Family'

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By Felix Carroll

On April 13, Marian Fathers around the world marked the 150th anniversary of the birth of Blessed George Matulaitis-Matulewicz (1871-1927). You may be asking yourself, "Who is Blessed George?" If so, we're glad you asked!

"When we think about what it means to be a Marian, we look to Blessed George," says Fr. Mark Baron, MIC, administrator at Our Lady of Peace Parish in Darien, Illinois. "We seek to live in his spirit."

About 110 years ago, amidst an age of religious oppression and lethal political upheaval, the Lithuanian native whom the Marian Fathers affectionately call "Father Renovator" set about to restore the Marian Congregation, which had dwindled down to one man. Inspired to take the Congregation founded in 1670 by St. Stanislaus Papczynski and make it flourish in contemporary times, Blessed George rewrote the Marian Constitutions. He gathered seminarians. He laid the groundwork for the growth of the Congregation, which today includes more than 500 priests and brothers serving in 20 countries.

Knowing the Marian religious could not bring the Gospel to every home without working together with the laity, he established in seed form what is now known as the Association of Marian Helpers. He also served as a bishop and an archbishop.

All the while, Blessed George suffered from tuberculosis of the bone. And all the while, he conducted himself in a spirit "more like the father of a family," as Fr. Marian Wisniewski, MIC, a novice under Blessed George, wrote. Indeed, Blessed George remains a father figure today for those who are the fruits of his labor — namely, the Marian seminarians who open that green Journal written by Blessed George expecting it to be a chore but discovering in it a spiritual treasure.

Seminarian Br. Alex, MIC, says, "Blessed George was a highly intelligent, very cultured, and extremely gifted individual. But for me, he is a role model of humility, service, and prudence. He cultivated his talents for the good of the Church, whether for the Marians or for the people of his diocese in Vilnius, and he put himself above political and ethnic conflicts, claiming his 'party' as Christ and His Church. He is a role model for the Church today, especially in these times of political division. Blessed George always reminds me that Christ unites me with others, that prayer is powerful, and that my first loyalty is to God and to His Church. Like Blessed George, I am able to live out my call to God as a Marian, and I am grateful for Blessed George's example and prayers."

Seminarian Br. Stephen, MIC, also finds inspiration in Blessed George's example.

"At the Washington, D.C., house, we have a booklet for the examination of conscience that accompanies our monthly day of recollection. This booklet includes reflections on the virtues of both St. Stanislaus and Blessed George. We are regularly reminded of Blessed George's virtues, particularly purity of intention, meekness, humility, hard work, constant prayer, and prudent zeal.

"Blessed George also inspires me through his Journal, which we study as novices and which I occasionally return to. It amazes me how, in some ways, he anticipated Vatican II's 'universal call to holiness' by his work with lay affiliates and 
associations, evangelizing and building up the Church in unity. Blessed George is definitely a good model for holy priests, bishops, and religious in our day, and an inspiration to us all to grow in holiness and love 'for Christ and the Church.'"

As Fr. Jim McCormack, MIC, notes, Blessed George taught the Marians how to be "contemplatives in action." That is, says Fr. Jim, "being constantly in touch with God, while living zealous and active lives of ministry.

"Blessed George spent his life seeking the best ways to bring the greatest glory to God," says Fr. Jim, the Marians' novice master, prefect of formation, and local superior in Washington, D.C. "We Marians today see it as our great task to try to follow his example — to be the spiritual sons of Blessed George."

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IMELDA - Jul 1, 2021

thank you father.