The new wave of Marian priests and soon-to-be priests. While still brothers at the time, (from left) Fr. Jim McCormack, MIC; Fr. Ken Dos Santos, MIC; Deacon Angelo Casimiro, MIC; Fr. Andy Davy, MIC; Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC; and Deacon James Cervantes, MIC, attended Pope Benedict XVI's Mass at the Washington Nationals Baseball Stadium on April 17, 2008.
Marians on a Mission
By Felix Carroll (Apr 1, 2011)
Maybe you've heard: Bucking the trend, the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary have been experiencing a surge in new vocations. But why? A new video produced by Deacon Angelo Casimiro, MIC, not only explains why, but it also could very well inspire more men to join this vibrant congregation charged with spreading the message of The Divine Mercy and devotion to Mary Immaculate.
In the following interview, Deacon Angelo talks about his project:
Deacon Angelo, how were you inspired to produce this video?
Felix, believe it or not but I was actually inspired to produce this video after reading an article you wrote on the web titled "A Few Good Men." In the article, Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC, talks about the surge in vocations in the Marian Fathers within the last few years. That got me thinking of how nice it would be if the Marian Fathers had a new vocation video. After all, 2010 was such a landmark year in the B.V.M. Mother of Mercy Province with three Marians making their perpetual profession of vows, three ordained to the transitional diaconate, and four ordained to the priesthood. I just wanted to capture all of that in a vocation video, and so I approached Fr. Donald Calloway about it and he gave me permission to work on it.
How does this video fit in with the Marians' apostolic mission?
The title of the video is "For Christ and the Church," which fits well with Blessed George Matulaitis' apostolic mission for the Marian Fathers after he renovated our order. In the video, I especially wanted to highlight the various aspects of the Marian charism: to spread devotion to Mary as the Immaculate Conception; to offer our lives for the Holy Souls in Purgatory; to operate publishing apostolates; to assist where the need is greatest in parishes, shrines, and missions; and to promote The Divine Mercy message and devotion.
This is a lot of work, and you're also a student. How did you manage to put together a 45-minute video like this, with all the interviews and music and footage?
I started working on this video last summer when I was off from school. I wrote the script and presented it to Fr. Donald Calloway and some key people. They told me to go ahead with it, and so I arranged to videotape interviews with Fr. Donald and three of our newly ordained Marian priests — Fr. Jim McCormack, MIC; Fr. Ken Dos Santos, MIC; and Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC. I also recorded Fr. Joe Roesch, MIC, doing the voice-overs for the narration. I was assisted by one of our novices, Giuseppe Mignano, who also helped me with the editing of the video. I also got some technical advice from Michael Baker, another one of our novices, who used to be a TV producer. Then I got permission from Catholic musicians Brian Flynn, Paul J. Kim, and Trish Short to use their songs in the video. Brian Flynn wrote a beautiful song titled "You Are a Priest Forever," and after I heard it, I just had to use it in the video. The song serves as the backdrop for a video montage of the priesthood ordinations of Fr. Jim, Fr. Ken, and Fr. Michael. Much of the video footage and pictures that we use in the video came from the recent Marian vows ceremonies and ordinations. I couldn't believe how much work went into this video. Video production is something entirely new to me, and so there was a learning curve. To tell you the truth, there were many times that I was tempted to just drop the project, especially since I was still taking classes. It turned out though to be a labor of love for the Lord and Our Lady. I couldn't have done it without them.
Who is your primary audience for this?
The primary audience for this video is young men who may be discerning God's call to the priesthood and religious life. My hope is that the video will answer the following questions for them: Who are the Marians? What is their charism? What is their mission? What are they like? I think that last question is very important because one reason for visiting different religious orders is to see what they are like. In the video, they get to know three recently ordained Marian priests, and hopefully they can identify with their stories.
I imagine you learned a lot about your congregation while doing this? If so, explain.
In my interviews with Fr. Donald, Fr. Jim, Fr. Ken, and Fr. Michael, I continually learned more about my congregation. I was just amazed with the wealth of information they shared. There's no denying that when it comes to the Marians, two words really stand out — Mercy and Mary. I think the best quote in the video comes from Fr. Michael as he tries to explain the Marian charism: "The core thrust of our charism is to strive and labor in rigorous apostolic work to make the Church as Mary is in heaven — Immaculate."
Did the making of this video bring about in you a deeper love for the Marians and the Marians' charism?
Most definitely. I have a greater love for my Marian brothers, and I can say that I'm really proud to be a Marian and all that we stand for. This doesn't mean we're perfect by any means but that each of us is striving for holiness. Compared to other religious congregations, we're small but mighty. I like to refer to us as Mary's little army. The Marians have been entrusted with what probably is the most important message of our time, and that is the message of Divine Mercy. I like the fact that we're now starting to use the latest technology to spread this message to a world that is so in need of God's Mercy.
Can you imagine playing this for Blessed George? I wonder what he'd think of Marian hip-hop.
I think he would like the video as a whole. Inspired by the vocation video, Marian novice Giuseppe Mignano wrote a hip-hop song titled "Mary's Sons" in honor of the Marians. He went into a recording studio and shared lead vocals with Br. Brent Thayer, MIC, with other Marians singing background vocals. Part of the chorus goes, "We are young, we are old, we love our Mother, trust our Lord, we are soldiers in their army of Marians." That's so cool. We then made a music video of the song with clips of Giuseppe and Br. Brent giving an impromptu performance mixed in with footage and pictures of the various guys in formation. We wanted to show that they're well-rounded individuals with a variety of interests, whether it be skiing, skateboarding, surfing, or mountain biking. I like to say that just because you enter a religious order doesn't mean you stop being human. As tribute to Blessed George, there's a line in the song that goes, "We are the dish rag used to clean the corners of the Church." In the music video, a picture of Blessed George comes up during that part of the song as that is what he called himself — a dish rag used for cleaning.
This video really brings into focus the new wave of men joining the order. Would you describe this new wave, and how does it differ from Marians of previous generations?
In all honesty, they're just a great group of guys. They each bring their own personalities and gifts to the mix. One thing the Marians are not is cookie-cutter, meaning a kind of sameness. I don't think I can handle that. Within the current crop of novices that we have, there is a wide variety of individuals. One used to be a TV producer, another one plays drums, one is very proficient at Spanish translations, and another writes hip-hop/rap music. There's not a day goes by without laughter being present in the house. You can say we have quite a few jokesters and punsters. Probably the only thing different with this generation of Marians from previous generations are the times and circumstances that we live in. Like all religious orders, the Marians also went through the turbulent times in the Church from the late 1960s to the 1980s. For awhile, the Marians weren't getting any vocations at all. Then in the 1990s there came a new wave of vocations with the likes of Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC; Fr. Anthony Gramlich, MIC; Fr. Michael Callea, MIC; Fr. Matt Lamoreaux, MIC; Fr. Mark Baron, MIC; Fr. John Larson, MIC; and Fr. Bob Vennetti, MIC. In the 2000s there was the next wave with Fr. Andy Davy, MIC; Fr. Ken Dos Santos, MIC; Fr. Jim McCormack, MIC; Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC; Deacon James Cervantes, MIC; and myself. And behind us is a brand new wave of future Marian priests that's coming on just as strong.
We urge you to view Deacon Angelo's inspiring video.