With great joy and profound peace, friends, family, and fellow Marians gathered in the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy on Aug. 13, for the Mass of Perpetual Vows of three Marian seminarians.
Brothers Alex Chung, Timothy Childers, and Christopher Orante professed the perpetual vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience, thereby becoming full members of the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception, a Congregation called by God to spread the message of Divine Mercy, devotion to the mystery of the Immaculate Conception and the Holy Souls in Purgatory, and to go where the need is greatest.
The Very Rev. Fr. Kazimierz Chwalek, MIC, noted in his homily what an amazing grace it is for these men to be making their perpetual vows during this extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy and also in the year of the canonization of the Marians’ Founder Stanislaus Papczynski. By professing perpetual vows, these men vow to God to live in imitation of our Lord Jesus Christ for the rest of their lives.
“Draw your strength from the Lord,” said Fr. Kaz, the Marians’ provincial superior of the United States and Argentina. “However long you are in vows — some men in our community will soon celebrate their 65th anniversary of vows on Monday — you cannot do it without the strength of God. It will push you forward and help you persevere, even in the hardest of trials.”
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In an interview following Mass, Fr. Kaz emphasized that the three men, like all of the Marian priests and brothers, are an essential part of God’s plan for the community.
“The community grows not just in numbers, but each person is a unique gift to God, with certain talents and capabilities for the mission of the Church. It’s like a mosaic of unique individuals that come, especially these three young men, who build up the picture of our mission for Christ and His Church. For this, we are always grateful.”
Brother Alex Chung, MIC, a native of Canada, said, “This is a very somber moment for me. I expected fireworks, and instead I have profound peace. My first few years as a brother were a struggle, but by prayer, perseverance, and trust in God, He has brought me here.”
Brother Alex said that it was the grace of God and the support of his superiors throughout the years, constantly confirming him in his vocation that brought him to give his life completely to the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception.
Brother Timothy Childers, MIC, a Florida native, said that even yesterday morning he was still in prayer about the events that were to take place today. He wasn’t quite sure if he was absolutely ready to take perpetual vows, and he felt God say to him in his heart, “You’ll never be ready.”
“I understood it all in one moment: I’ll never be perfect enough, I’ll never be holy enough, but that’s not what He’s asked of me today,” Br. Timothy said. “Today, He asked me to be ready for His love, and I could say with my whole heart and soul that I’m ready for that. I said to God today in my perpetual vows, ‘Here is all of me, take it all, I want to receive your love!'”
Brother Christopher Orante, MIC, of California, overwhelmed with the emotions of the day, said, “I have an incredible feeling of fulfillment right now. I was created for this from all eternity, and finally the moment has come. I am filled with peace and joy.”
Father Jim McCormack, the provincial prefect of formation, said, “We’re incredibly grateful as a community. I feel like a proud father right now, seeing these men make their perpetual vows to our community. It is a moment of great joy and celebration.”
These three men have now dedicated the rest of their lives to the service of Christ and the Church. They are enthusiastic to go out and be “prophets to the nations,” as the reading from the book of the prophet Jeremiah said at the Mass. In fact, between the three men and their parents, they represent five different continents from across the world. By the Providence of God, they were brought together in this one place, the National Shrine of the Divine Mercy with the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception. These young men will continue their studies this fall and continue to discern whether God is calling them to be a permanent brother in the community or to be ordained a priest.
There is one thing these men all agree that they want to share with you all: “Thank you, and please pray for us!”
Let us all join in prayer of thanksgiving to God for these vocations, and the “yes” each of these men have given to Christ this day.