Fr. John Larson, MIC

Pastoral Assistant at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy, and Assistant Postulant Director
Stockbridge, Massachusetts

John Larson
In my teens, I moved away from my faith somewhat, but still had some curiosity about the Bible and philosophy. But in 1990, at the age of 19, I was listening to Christian rock music and decided to commit my life to Christ.

In the middle of 1992, I began to sense a call to the priesthood. Around the same time, my parents sent me a videotape of that year's EWTN telecast of Mercy Sunday at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy on Eden Hill, in Stockbridge, Mass.

On the telecast, Fr. Larry Dunn, MIC, the Vocation Director at that time, invited young men to consider a vocation as a Marian priest or brother. It struck me that maybe I was being called to join the Marians.

I also started to pray the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy and entered my parish's RCIA program in early 1993, since I hadn't been confirmed as a teenager.

Through friends, I learned about the gift of being a Catholic, and especially the gift of devotion to Our Lady. I joined the Legion of Mary and read about Marian apparitions throughout history. Around this time, I saw "Song of Bernadette," the 1943 film based on the life of St. Bernadette Soubirous. She had visions of Our Lady in Lourdes, France, in 1858. In these apparitions, Our Lady identified herself as the Immaculate Conception.

I had a desire to see this place where Our Lady had appeared. I took the opportunity to go there in February of 1993. It was a very powerful pilgrimage. I felt that Mary was there, present in a mysterious way. It was an important element in my discernment of a religious vocation.Interestingly, by the end of the pilgrimage, some of my fellow pilgrims had the impression that I was going to be a priest!

Just two months later, I was confirmed in my parish. And the date was significant. It was on April 19, 1993 -- the day after Sr. Faustina's beatification in Rome. Thus, I had the joy of calling upon her as Blessed Faustina when I was confirmed.

Over the course of the next couple of years, I corresponded with Fr. Larry, visited the Marians in Washington, D.C., and discerned. I applied in 1995, and was accepted. Shortly before I entered as a postulant, I attended the Mary, Mercy, Eucharist Conference at the Franciscan University of Steubenville in June of 1995. During a Holy Hour there, which was led by Fr. Seraphim Michalenko, MIC, I felt completely at peace about joining the Marians.

After 10 years of preparation and study, I was ordained to the priesthood on Feb. 11, 2006 — the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, at the National Shrine of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.

After my ordination, I was first an assistant pastor at our parish in Plano, Illinois. From 2006 to 2018 I was stationed in Steubenville, Ohio, serving in many capacities, including ministering to students at Franciscan University of Steubenville and to various religious communities of women in the area.

In 2018 I moved to Stockbridge, Massachusetts, to help with ministry at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy. On occasion, I give a parish mission or serve as chaplain for a pilgrimage.