A new Superior General: Fr. Joseph Roesch, MIC

The Most Rev. Joseph Roesch, MIC, a priest of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy Province of the United States and Argentina, has been elected to a six-year term as Superior General of the worldwide Congregation of Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary.

Father Roesch, 62, ordained to the priesthood in 1992, has been serving in Rome as Vicar General of the Marian Congregation.

A former rector of the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy, Fr. Roesch is a popular conference speaker and familiar presence on television (co-host of EWTN's annual Divine Mercy Sunday broadcast) and the internet (travel documentaries including "France: A Pilgrimage with Mary"). He is the author of several popular podcasts, including "Saint Faustina's Diary in a Year" and the current "Journal of Blessed George Matulaitis." 

Now Fr. Roesch is the head of the worldwide Marian Congregation, founded in Poland in 1670 by Saint Stanislaus Papczynski, and comprising about 500 priests and brothers who work in 18 countries, including the USA, Argentina, Belarus, Brazil, Cameroon, Czech Republic, India, Italy, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Rwanda, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom.

A fraternal community of consecrated life in the Roman Catholic Church, the Marians are known for their devotion to Mary Immaculate, dedication to praying for the Holy Souls in Purgatory, promotion of the Divine Mercy message and devotion, and active service to Christ and His Church wherever the need is greatest. 

WATCH: Father Joseph Roesch explains what the Marians do at their General House in Rome, in this video from 2018.

Father Roesch's story
Here is Fr. Roesch's story, in his own words:

I grew up in Staten Island, N.Y., the second oldest of five children. I often went to daily Mass. I was an altar server, and my family often prayed the Rosary together.

I first thought about the priesthood as a young boy, looking into a minor seminary in grammar school and at the Archdiocese of New York while in high school. But I chose not to go into either one. I went to St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia and received a B.A. in English, Drama and Fine Arts, then worked as an actor for a couple of years. 

I had been drifting from my faith, but the prayers of my parents and a small book on the little children of Fatima and the sacrifices they made brought me back to the Sacrament of Reconciliation and to a deeper practice of the faith. For a while I continued to work as an actor while attending daily Mass, going to Adoration, praying the Rosary and the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy, and reading the Scriptures. The Lord gave me many graces to break away from old vices, and I had a hunger for prayer and for spiritual reading.

Thoughts of the priesthood continued to come back to me. A tape of a charismatic conference spoke to my heart. There was a word of prophecy on it that said, "If you continue to ignore My call, I will have to get others to do My work for me." When I heard those words, it was like a blow to my chest. I felt they were directed at me and that I had been avoiding the call of the Lord for a long time. I felt compelled to answer the call. I wanted to join a religious community that had something to do with Mary since I had grown up in a large family and I thought the diocesan priesthood might be lonely.

A thought came into my head, "What about the Marians?" I had no idea who the Marians were, but I found them through an advertisement in Catholic Digest. I wrote to them, and I felt relief that I had finally done something about my vocation, yet I asked myself, "What have I done?" There was a temptation to pull back from the step I had taken. 

I corresponded with a Marian in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, but the first Marian that I met was Portuguese. I met him in Fatima during a pilgrimage that I made there. He asked me my age, which was 24 at that time. He said, "Join now! Twenty-three is too soon and 25 is too late!" (I think he said that to everyone!)

I surrendered my heart to Jesus and Mary at Fatima. I was given the grace to let go of all of my fears. When I met the Marians in the U.S., I felt comfortable with them and their spirituality. It seemed like a good fit. I joined the Marians in 1986 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1992. 

After ordination, I worked in a parish in North Carolina, was the Rector of the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, and Local Superior there. I worked in formation in Steubenville, Ohio, and Washington, D.C., and was the Novice Master for seven years. I was also on the Provincial Council and promoted the message of The Divine Mercy. 

I was elected to come to Rome as a General Councilor in 2005 where I have served two terms as Vicar General. I have visited the Marians in various countries, record podcasts, and explore possibilities for future missions. 

"I have discovered that everything is possible for God if we will only say yes to His call," Fr. Roesch concludes. "I'm very grateful to Our Lady for helping me throughout my 30 years of priesthood. I only pray for perseverance, for myself and for all my Marian brothers. May we be faithful to the end."


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