On Sept. 1-4, 2014, the 16th International Conference of the Association of Marian Helpers and the Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception took place in Licheń. Visitors from the United States, Lithuania, Latvia, Ukraine and Poland came to the Marian shrine. The AMH International conferences have been organized annually for the past 16 years. Their purpose is to deepen the spiritual and intellectual formation of their participants so that they can implement more fully the Marian charism in their communities. This year’s theme of the meeting was: “How to live and act in the spirit of the mystery of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.” Father Prof. Marek Chmielewski from the Catholic University of Lublin and Fr. Jaroslaw Hybza, MIC, were the keynote speakers. Also, Mr. Andrzej Pietrucha from the Bank Ochrony Środowiska Foundation gave a talk on improving fund-raising skills.
The meeting participants commented positively on the meeting’s successful amalgamation of spiritual and practical aspects. Talks on the mystery of the Immaculate Conception provided a deeper understanding of the AMH’s calling and the purpose of its work, while the ensuing discussions and workshops helped to see ways of implementing spiritual truths in daily life. “I was able to understand anew what it means to imitate Mary,” said Monika from the AMH Center in Warsaw. “I realized that imitating Mary is achieving the same openness to God that she had. Mary has become ever closer to me because I realized the fullness of her human nature and her absolute openness to the Holy Spirit. I am glad that practical as well as spiritual matters were presented there, which we need for our everyday work at the Association. Also, the conference took into account the fact that we live and work in the world and that we need to find our place in this world with our mission,” she added. Another important experience of the conference was meeting people who work for the same cause in different countries. “I was glad to see representatives of the AMH from various countries and to know how the Association functions outside of Poland,” said Alicja, one of the AMH volunteers.
The meeting in Licheń gave an opportunity to give thanks to God for the 20 years of work of the Association of Marian Helpers in Poland. The thanksgiving Mass was presided over by Fr. Paweł Naumowicz, MIC, Superior of the Divine Providence Province of the Congregation of Marian Fathers. In his homily he said that he was happy to celebrate this occasion in an international setting. Referring to the conference topic, he pointed out three principles that introduce us to the mystery of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God: to continuously invoke and become filled with the Holy Spirit; to not enter into any conversation with the evil one; and to accept and live out the Word of God.
The Association was founded in that country in 1994 at the initiative of Fr. Jan Mikołaj Rokosz, MIC, then the Polish Provincial and currently the director of the Polish branch. The now-worldwide Association has been in existence since 1925, and presently unites nearly a million lay associates of the Congregation of Marian Fathers. The Association has its branches in the United States, Argentina, Brazil, Portugal, the United Kingdom, Poland, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, and the Philippines. The organization draws together the faithful who wish to live out the Marian spirituality and promote it in their communities. Members of the AMH support the Marian priests and brothers through prayer, thus further deepening their spiritual life.