BY RACHEL LAVALLEE
The Rev. Michael Gaitley, MIC, author of “33 Days to Morning Glory,” inspired a full crowd of Franciscan University students Sept. 10 with his witness of the power of Marian consecration.
Gaitley spoke a week following the kickoff for Project Every Heart, the initiative for a campus-wide consecration to Mary’s Immaculate Heart.
“Our hope in bringing Fr. Gaitley here was for students to be convicted by his very powerful presence of hope,” said junior Kolbe Young, a resident assistant in St. Louis Hall.
Young and senior Ned Hesser, a Trinity Hall resident assistant, collaborated to make Project Every Heart a reality on campus.
Gaitley spoke about St. Maximilian Kolbe, who was a great proponent of total consecration to Mary through his extensive outreach to Poland shortly before World War II. St. Maximilian is one of the four saints on which Gaitley’s book focuses. Gaitley pointed out that large pushes for Marian consecration occur before great historical tragedy.
Reflecting on American society, Gaitley said that “we’re in the midst of the second largest push for Marian consecration in history,” and it may even be “bigger” than that of Kolbe’s time.
“Now is the time of mercy,” Gaitley said, noting Pope Francis’ call for a Year of Mercy and Franciscan University’s theme for the school year. He urged students to approach God with “bold confidence” as God presents us with “infinite merits.”
Freshman Briana Santana was particularly inspired by Gaitley’s claim.
“We’re called to be saints,” said Santana. “We need to start doing our part to consecrate all of America to Mary.”
Gaitley stated that Mary was “a drop of consolation in the midst of an ocean of bitterness for Jesus” as he suffered on the cross. Christ longs to share his consolation in Mary with every person, and Mary longs to bring people to Christ.
Gaitley, a Franciscan University alumnus, described himself as once having “one of the worst devotions to Mary.” He encouraged all students to approach Mary with confidence.
“Our Lady is choosing the weakest and most broken souls,” said Gaitley. “Her love goes to the lowest places.”
Students who have not been participating in the campus-wide consecration are encouraged to join. Free copies of “33 Days to Morning Glory” can be found in resident assistants’ offices, and weekly screenings of video reflections are offered in all residence halls.