Most Reverend Joseph Roesch, MIC

Superior General of the Marian Congregation
Rome, Italy

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, Mass., 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.

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 assisted the Superior General, visited the Marians in various countries, published a Newsletter, studied, and explored possibilities for future missions. I discovered that everything is possible for God if we will only say yes to His call.

During the General Chapter meeting in Rome in February 2023, I was elected the 40th Superior General of the Congregation, so I have become a successor of our Founder, St. Stanislaus Papczynski and of the Renovator of the Congregation, Blessed George Matulaitis-Matulewicz, the 27th Superior General. I ask for your prayers as I take on this new office for the next six years. The good news is that if God asks us to take on an office, the Holy Spirit will give us the grace to carry out our work. 

Some people have asked if my life will change much as I move from being the Vicar General to the Superior General – from the second in command to the one in charge. Some things are very similar. However, I have noticed that some tasks have multiplied. When people call, they usually want to talk to the Superior General rather than his Vicar. The buck stops here. 

I am very blessed that God has given me an excellent and experienced General Council. Please pray for all of us as we serve the Congregation for the next six years!


• Listen to Fr. Joe's podcasts and watch his videos on

• As a member of the Marians' General Council in Rome, Fr. Joe has been heavily involved in establishing the Marians' mission to the Philippines. Read more about the Marians and Divine Mercy in the Philippines.

• Fr. Joe was host of the "Cenacle of The Divine Mercy: EWTN Program Series II." A DVD of the series and complementary Companion Guide are available at our Online Catalog.