Recently, I was blessed to attend the National Gathering of the Missionaries of Mercy at St. Meinrad Archabbey and Seminary in St. Meinrad, Indiana. 40 Missionaries of Mercy were in attendance from across the United States and Canada.
Since the Conference took place during the first year of the three-year National Eucharistic Revival, the principal focus of the conference was on the connection between Mercy and the Holy Eucharist: the connection between the Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist, and between the Eucharist and the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.
Bishop Andrew Cozzens of Crookston, Minnesota, the chairman of the National Eucharistic Revival as well as the 2024 National Eucharistic Congress to take place July 17-21, 2024 in Indianapolis, was among the speakers and addressed the theme of Mercy in the Eucharistic Revival. He spoke to how the Missionaries of Mercy will be present in Indianapolis to help with the 80,000-plus pilgrims who might be seeking to go to receive the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation.
Saint Meinrad Abbot Fr. Kurt Stasiak, OSB, an author of the very helpful A Confessor’s Handbook, spoke about the theme of becoming better and more merciful confessors.
Father Stephen Kappler, President and Chief Psychologist of Southdown Institute in Toronto, Canada addressed ideas on caring for priests on the margins, followed by conversation as to how Missionaries of Mercy — considering our special faculties — might be better able to care for them.
Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Evangelization gave the opening Keynote Address, presided at Mass, and led the renewal of the Missionaries ecclesial commitment.
Archbishop Charles Thompson of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis celebrated the Opening Vespers of the Gathering.
There was also a discussion of the recent National Survey of Priests and how Missionaries of Mercy in particular can be of support to brother priests.
Finally, we had an opportunity to do a joint corporal work of mercy, reaching out to care for those who have been victims
of floods in eastern Kentucky.
It was a very memorable experience, and I look forward to serving as a Missionary of Mercy as long as Pope Francis needs me!
Fr. Mark Zacker