Photo: Dr. Bryan Thatcher
This photo from 2001 marks the early days of Marian mission work in the Philippines. Father Seraphim Michalenko, MIC, is welcomed by Divine Mercy devotees in the capital city of Manilla.
Dr. Bryan Thatcher in Florida, headquarters for EADM. It is from this lot outside of Tampa where EADM works to fill shipping containers with medical supplies and other necessities to ship around the world.
By Dan Valenti (Jan 9, 2009)
In early June this year, the Marians of the Immaculate Conception sent three priests — Frs. Walerian Pozniak, MIC, Jan Migacz, MIC, and Mariusz Jarzebek, MIC — to the Philippines to begin work of establishing a mission to the island nation half-a-world away.
In the succeeding six months, the work has been arduous but rewarding, with a giant statue of The Divine Mercy being dedicated at the mission site, Divine Mercy Hills, in Cagayan de Oro on the island of Mindanao. Numerous other examples of spiritual and material aid to the Philippine people testify to the fruitfulness of the first half-year of the three, hard-working missionaries.
This mission momentum has nicely complimented the previous success of another aspect of the Marian ministry to Filipino spiritual life: the people's warm embrace of Eucharistic Apostle of The Divine Mercy. EADM, through the tireless energy and creativity of its director, Dr. Bryan Thatcher, M.D., has tended the "soil" for the seed of mercy to better take home.
Dr. Thatcher, known by all as Bryan, is one of those rare people. He's a man of science who knows no division between his professional discipline and faith. When many medical men in private practice are driving their new luxury cars to make an early tee time at the country club, Bryan is at the EADM office in Tampa, Fla., planning the ministry's next venture. It might be caring for the homeless or collecting medical supplies for a clinic in need. Whatever the action, it springs from one source: a thankful acknowledgment of God's wise care.
That wise care God makes available for all, to all, without any qualifier but one: that we accept it. And that provides the context for what is unfolding in the Philippines in terms of Divine Mercy. Filipinos have embraced God's mercy as revealed by Jesus to St. Faustina. They have done so with a fervor and a degree of seriousness that is at first hard to fully appreciate. But ask the men and women who have visited the islands, and they will tell you.
Tending the Flame
Once the flame of mercy is ignited, the fire needs constant tending if it is to sustain and grow. That's what the Marians are doing in the Philippines: "tending" the flame.
"EADM has an active presence across the Philippines," says Bryan. "The fervor of the people and their love of The Divine Mercy and Our Lady make the islands a place of great faith."
Bryan is quick to thank Msgr. Josefino Ramirez of the Archdiocese of Manila and Monsignor Cris Garcia on the island of Cebu.
"Both Msgrs. Ramirez and Garcia have provided immense spiritual leadership and direction," Bryan continues. "That's largely why we have so many EADM groups across the islands, including Davao on the island of Mindanao. Father Seraphim Michalenko, Dr. Robert Stackpole, Lee Bowers, and I have visited the Philippines and spoke on Divine Mercy and living the message in today's society. We have invariably found warm receptions and large crowds. Clearly, this is a nation thirsting to receive and live mercy.
"EADM is active on the island of Cebu, and Msgr. Garcia is the spiritual director," Bryan says. "Doctor Emma Dy, facilitator of the Cebu group, wrote and told us, 'I share the dream that all Divine Mercy devotees follow the formation. We have to come to Jesus' feet every day, sit and listen, and learn from Him. We must be filled with Him before we can go out and give His love and mercy to others.'
"This testimony suggests how deep the message of God's mercy has penetrated in the Philippines," Bryan says. "Doctor Dy's 'dream' is shared by countless others. Our job is to facilitate the fulfillment of her vision."
Bryan also shared a message he received from Carmencita Inte, who heads EADM's prayer cenacle in Davao: "Carmencita wrote and told us, 'Our Davao group is doing a tremendous job, and we love learning all we can about Divine Mercy. It is easy to pray the Chaplet and gaze at the beautiful Image, but it is very difficult to live the message of mercy.'" Bryan adds that the group has had several large conferences, and the devotees continue to be active.
'Supply Side' Spirituality
On the "material and supply" front, EADM has sent several containers to the Philippines, Bryan says. Most have gone to equip a medical clinic on Guimaras Island. The governor of the island, Dr. Rahman Nava, wrote to EADM, and said: "We acknowledge receipt of all the hospital supplies, equipment, and instruments extended by your organization for our people. We are very fortunate to have these items, which will greatly enhance the provision of greater health access and care for our indigent population."
In addition to these the Guimaras containers, materials have been donated for the poor and given to the Missionaries of Charity, Servants of Charity, Eucharistic Disciples of St. Pius X, Hospicio de San Jose, Galileo Home, Emmaus House of Apostolate, Damascus Foundation, Bethlehem House of Bread, the Orphanage of St. Joseph, and St. Scholastica's Home for the aged.
There is no doubt much work lies ahead for The Divine Mercy in the Philippines, but with enablers such as the Marians and EADM, the harvest, though enormous, will find enough workers. Such is God's "work ethic."
Learn more about EADM.
Dan Valenti writes for numerous publications of the Marians of the Immaculate Conception, both in print and online. He is the author of "Dan Valenti's Journal" at thedivinemercy.org.