June 2, 2008
Marians Hold a ‘Spiritual Send-Off’
By Felix Carroll
The Marians of the Immaculate Conception marked an historic moment on Monday, June 2, with a spiritual send-off by a celebration of Holy Mass. The send-off, at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy, in Stockbridge, Mass., was for three priests who represent the Marians’ first missionaries to the Philippines.
The priests — Frs. Walerian Pozniak, MIC, Jan Migacz, MIC, and Mariusz Jarzabek, MIC — would be flying to the Far East the following day.
“This is a special moment of joy for the Church and especially for us as Marians as we go forth to bring the Good News of our Savior’s Divine Mercy for all of His people,” said the Very Rev. Daniel Cambra, MIC, Provincial Superior for the Marians’ Stockbridge-based province, and the celebrant of the Holy Mass. “This is a joyous occasion, and it should be recognized as such for us as a family gathered in faith.”
The missionaries were given a special blessing. Each was presented with a crucifix.
Father Dan, during his homily, mentioned how he has spoken to many missionaries in the 25 years he’s been a Marian, “and one of the things I notice that all the missionaries have in common is — and pardon me for putting it so bluntly — a lack of knowledge for where they are going.”
He joked, “At least in my mind, if they knew where they were going, they’d be going the other direction.”
For the past year, Frs. Walerian and Jan have been working and studying at the Marians’ House of Formation in Washington, D.C. Father Mariusz has been working at the National Shrine in Stockbridge.
“I’ve tried to figure out some way to convince them not to go to the Philippines,” said Fr. Dan. “But I couldn’t come up with a good reason. I even wrote a letter to the Marians’ Superior General insisting that I thought this was moving too quickly. But he paid attention to me much the same way that he has paid attention to me previously and told me ‘not to worry so much’ and ‘trust in Jesus.’
“So I’ll tell you the same thing the Superior General told me,” Fr. Dan said to the missionaries, who were seated together in the first pew. “Don’t worry so much, and trust in Jesus.”
That trust, he told the missionaries, will carry them through the many trials that certainly await them in their task to help spread God’s mercy to the far reaches of the world.
Appropriately, the Gospel reading was from Mark 16, when Jesus commissions His disciples to preach the Gospel to all creation and to not be afraid.
“Step out into faith,” Fr. Dan told the missionaries. “In a wonderful way, this is wonderful blessing — not just for the three of you, but in turn for all of us back here, because in a very real sense what you do on the front lines as a missionary, you do in harmony with us.
“Our prayers go with you,” he said. “If there is ever a worry or concern that you have, by all means, send those worries and concerns home. We want to be your sounding board, your sure port. We want to be the ones you depend on in a very direct fashion because we know that you are trusting Jesus, first and foremost, for everything you need. It’s not up to me. It’s not up to the Superior General. It’s not up to the Marian Community. It’s not even up to you. It’s up to Jesus to work through to give comfort and aid to His people, to strengthen them through these difficult times.”
And these times are, indeed difficult, Fr. Dan noted. He said we live in a “post-Christian age.” As such, what used to be taken for granted — a God-centered existence — is no longer the case, he said.
“In a very real sense, we send these missionaries forth to give light,” Fr. Dan said. “Light that flows from the Eucharist. Light that flows from the confessional. Light that flows into eternal life.
“There’s a reason why priests are called ‘Fathers,'” he said. “It’s because we impart fatherly wisdom, fatherly love. It is because we truly desire to see our children, our sons and daughters, come to the fullness of the promises of Christ, which is salvation in His mercy. It is precisely the mercy of the God that makes all of this possible, that makes this Shrine possible, and what’s happening in the Philippines possible.”
Father Dan shared the news that though the Marians haven’t even established a house in the Philippines yet, already a bishop in the Philippines has reported that there are young men who want to join the Congregation.
“They’ve heard of us,” said Fr. Dan, “because they have heard mention that we are the ones whom the Holy Mother Church has entrusted with the authentic message of The Divine Mercy. It is a huge blessing beyond our imagination — that God tells us that we weak, ordinary men have been chosen for such an extraordinary vocation.”
He said, “We have been given a huge opportunity — a magnificent blessing — in being called to be instruments of the Divine Mercy message in a very profound way. You’re planting the seeds of what will grow not only in the Philippines, but all of Oceana. Hopefully, what we’re doing today will be replicated many times.”
Father Dan called the missionaries “the springtime of the Church … that seed that will grow and give shade from the heat. You are that tower of ivory that will give light to the world, a light that no darkness can conquer.”
In closing, he said, “Our prayers are with you, that we might share in the blessings that God will shower through you on the people whom He loves so much.”