As “Hail Holy Queen” resounded in the golden rafters of the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy, the Marian Fathers welcomed three new members to their Congregation on Saturday. Three men professed their first vows with the Marians: Fr. Michael Ishida, MIC, from the Diocese of Spokane; Fr. David Gunter, MIC, from the Archdiocese in Boston; and Ruben Veloz of California.
During his homily, the Marians’ Provincial Superior the Very Rev. Fr. Kaz Chwalek, MIC, joked that they rarely get priests as novices, but God’s grace had called all three of the new members to the Marian Congregation.
“Somehow in their hearts, they wanted to do a little bit extra,” Fr. Kaz said.
Before the altar, the three took vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience. Father Kaz explained this was their way of showing their complete submission to God’s will. He presented the new members with the Blue Scapular of Our Lady which serves as a sign of honoring and imitating Mary.
“You’re saying, ‘I love you Lord, I trust you, I listen to you, you’re my enough,” Fr. Kaz said.
Watch his full homily:
Additionally, 10 men renewed their vows with the Marians. The Marians also received three new postulants and eight new novices this weekend into the formation program.
Father Jim McCormack, MIC, the Marians’ novice master and prefect of formation, said there are now more Marian vocations then there have been in several years.
“It’s such a blessing, there’s a sense that Our Lady is using our Congregation in a powerful way,” he said, “The fact that we have so many vocations is a sign of God’s mercy, that he is choosing us to do something special through his mercy.”
As part of the Marian tradition, the vows were professed on the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary. Father Jim explained that this is because the Assumption is the celebration of when Mary goes to her eternal reward.
“She goes to intercede for us, and on this day, we are committing ourselves to follow and imitate her in a special way so that we may be with her and our Lord forever,” Fr. Jim said.
New member Fr. Mike, MIC, a native of Hawaii, said he became familiar with the Marians when he was a postulate in 1999. After he completed his postulancy, he was led to be ordained to the Diocese of Spokane. He recently returned to the Marians because he always felt a deep love for the Blessed Mother and wants to spread devotion to her and to the Divine Mercy.
“Our Lady is love,” Fr. Mike said. “She’s the reason for my devotion, a love that, gratefully, sealed my fate regardless of where I was.”
Father Mike said he hopes to develop certain talents with the Marians, mainly to be a spiritual director.
Brother Ruben, MIC, became familiar with the Marians’ mission in 2003 when he met Fr. Angelo Casimiro, MIC, who he now calls his good friend. He started going to Mass, even though he had not made his Holy Communion. For a month and a half, he sat alone in the pew.
“Then, I decided it was time,” Br. Ruben recalls. “I tried to run, but you know Jesus, he always catches up to you.”
Brother Ruben said at first, as a novice, he was homesick. But the Marians’ devotion to Mary and their message of Divine Mercy has given him peace.
“This is definitely home and where God wants me to be,” he said.
New member Fr. David, MIC, said his life as a Marian has been “20 years in the making.” He started as a parish priest in the Holy Family Church of Duxbury, Massachusetts. God called him to join the Marians when Fr. Jim McCormick was visiting his sister in Duxbury and was a concelebrant at a Mass there. Father Jim’s devotion to the Blessed Mother resonated with him.
“I just love Our Lady so much,” Fr. David said. “Sometimes I don’t think people understand how important she is. My mission is to help the people understand.”
Father David said he had read the powerful, first-person conversion story No Turning Back, by Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC, and was further inspired to join the Marians.
Father Donald, who is the vocation director, has held monthly retreats to Steubenville, Ohio, for the past eight years to share the Marians’ mission. He said the members who have been inspired by his powerful conversion story don’t join the Marians so that they may follow him, rather, it is so that they may live the life of a Marian — in total devotion to Our Lady and promotion of the Divine Mercy message and devotion.
“God merely sends me to go fishing for men. Any of them (Marians) could do it,” Fr. Donald said. “They hear me talk about the devotion to Our Lady and Divine Mercy and they’re hooked.”
Father David wholeheartedly agrees.
“[Mary’s] a Queen,” he said. “You can’t do better than that.”