Photo: Felix Carroll
Father Walter Gurgul, MIC, who serves as a pastor at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy, stands in front of a painting of the Marian Founder Blessed Stanislaus Papczynski (1631-1701).
Meet Father Walter Gurgul, MIC
by Fr. Walter Gurgul, MIC
My devotion to Mary started in Poland, where I was born in 1930. I was baptized in the church that houses the Black Madonna, and as I grew up, my mother's strong love of Mary made a major impression on me.
Mom nurtured in me a love for Our Lady that became the greatest spiritual influence of my life. As a consequence, both before and after becoming a priest in Poland, it seemed natural to pray so much to the Blessed Mother — oh, so many prayers, and all the time she was listening.
When I went to the novitiate, I met many priests who loved Mary. One priest in particular had a profound effect on me. His name was Fr. Joseph Jarzebowski, MIC. He was always talking about Mary. In fact, he used to greet everyone with "Ave Maria!"
Three of us began together as Marians: Francis Jaworski, now one of our Marian Fathers in Fatima, George Predko, and me. We started together on Aug. 15, 1954, and were ordained on July 4, 1960. It was the most beautiful day of my life, because my mother was there to witness it.
After 47 years as a priest and 53 as a Marian, my relationship with the Blessed Mother feels as fresh and new as ever. The Marians pray the Rosary every day, but beyond that, we speak to Mary every day. I involve Our Lady in everything I do. For example, before I preach, I ask the Blessed Mother for her guidance.
When you love Mary, though, you run out of words. We have no words to properly express our praise and love for her. Sometimes, the only word that comes to my mind is her name: "Mary ... Mary ... Mary."
My favorite prayer is the Angelus. It sounds, perhaps, strange, but I pray this after I take my morning shower and I'm drying off. I feel clean, and praying the "Angelus" cleans me inside. Clean body, clean soul! Then, at night at the end of the day, after my prayers, the last thing I do is grab a rosary and keep it with me as I sleep.
My advice to all who will listen: One, make your last words of the day an Act of Contrition for anything you might have done to offend God. Two, stay in touch with Our Lady. She brings us to Jesus. Three, always carry a rosary, wear a scapular, or have a prayercard with you.
Also, keep in mind what Our Lady said at Fatima. She's concerned for us, her children. She's worried about our future, about our final happiness, like any mother. That's why she appeared at Fatima, to help us and to save us. This is more important today than it was 90 years ago.
God will help anyone, as He helped me, if they approach Him through a love of Mary. She never fails us.