BY MATTHEW BROWN
As an audience of more than one hundred people took their seats in the Gentile Gallery of the J.C. Williams Center at Franciscan University of Steubenville on Jan 22, the Rev. Michael Gaitley opened his talk on Mary’s gift of mercy.
Gaitley graduated from Franciscan University in 1999 and was ordained a priest in October, 2010. He is the author of the best-selling books “33 Days to Morning Glory” and “Consoling the Heart of Jesus.” He is currently the director of the Association of Marian Helpers who supports the Marian brothers and sisters who are dedicated to spreading the message of God’s divine mercy.
The talk identified how one can be a true recipient of God’s divine mercy through the intercession of the Blessed Mother. Described as the “second greatest story ever told,” Gaitley spoke on Divine Mercy from the account of St. Faustina Kowalska of Poland who was visited by Jesus and given the image of his Divine Mercy on the eve of World War II. Gaitley also gave notice to Our Lady of Fatima who Blessed Pope John Paul II believed saved him from an assassin’s bullet in 1984. He opened his talk with a quote from Blessed Pope John Paul II:
“In the designs of providence, there are no coincidences.”
This particular quote came to Gaitley’s mind when he realized he would ironically be giving a talk on the 40th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, which marked the beginning of legalized abortion in the United States. Gaitley said some may see this as a coincidence, but he sees it as divine providence. He said God’s grace and mercy are needed most in times of death and suffering.
Gaitley came to this conclusion while praying before the Tomb of the Unborn Child next the Portiuncula Chapel on Franciscan’s campus. Shortly after praying, he noticed the Tomb was the lowest location on campus and while walking to Holy Spirit Friary to prepare a lecture, he noticed that the high-standing cross was the highest location on campus. This reminded him that Christians should always keep their eyes on the cross but their hearts should go out to the lowest point where there is suffering.
Blessed Pope John Paul II, the central focus of the talk, was an influential leader well known for his insightful dedication to the Holy Mother who inspired, protected and guided him through a holy life of perpetual sacrifice. Blessed Pope John Paul II took the responsibility of spreading the message of divine mercy as one of his primary tasks from the beginning to the end of his papacy. Gaitley closed by encouraging all to be active participants in Marian consecration.
After the lecture, members walked out of the Gentile Gallery with a free copy of “33 Days to Morning Glory,” written by Gaitley.
Among those who attended the lecture was junior Meg Miller, who said: “I think it was a very good message for our students to hear. Being apart a very Marian household who participates in the Marian consecration, it was good to hear the benefits of it and also for other students to hear it. Hearing his personal testimony and how it changed his life was very inspiring.”
The talk was sponsored by Franciscan’s chapter of Students for Life.