Marian Helpers now look to spread the word about Blessed Stanislaus

By: Felix Carroll

“I’m here to give thanks,” said Virginia Antaya, pictured here just before the beatification began. “In 1979, I came to Poland and visited the tomb of Fr. Stanislaus. I put my hand on his tomb and asked for a gift of healing — physical and inner healing. My prayers were later answered.”

Stanislaus Papczynski, a household name? In Poland, yes. But in the United States, it all depends what house you live in.

For the several dozen Marian Helpers from the states who attended the beatification, the Church’s new blessed is an old spiritual friend. And if it were up to them, everyone would know his name. Indeed, that’s the task many of them have set for themselves.

“We have to let the rest of the Church know about Blessed Papczynski,” said Marlene Schlecht, of Kenosha, WI. She said that, in honor of the beatification, her parish, St. Peter’s, would celebrate a Holy Mass of thanksgiving that would also serve to educate parishioners about the man.

“We have so much to learn from him,” Marlene said.

“When I was a little girl, my uncle used to tell me about Fr. Stanislaus,” said Virginia Antaya, who grew up in Adams, MA. “He spoke very reverentially about the Founder of the Marians. He would use Fr. Stanislaus as a model for his own spiritual life, and that inspired me in my spiritual life.”

Virginia’s uncle happened to be Fr. Walter Pelczynski, MIC. Not to be confused with Fr. Papczynski, “Fr. Pel,” as he was known throughout the Marian community, or “Uncle Father,” as Virginia knew him, founded the Association of Marian Helpers. It was Fr. Pel who secured the property in Stockbridge, MA, in 1943 that is now home to the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy and the headquarters for the Association.

“I am representing my uncle today,” said Virginia, who took her seat, front and center, at the beatification. “I know that if Uncle Father were alive today he would be here, too, and he would be so happy.”

For the Marian Helpers, Blessed Stanislaus’s beatification shines the spotlight on the multifaceted legacy of a man whose spirituality remains vital today.

For Dean and Suzanne Weber of Cincinnati, OH, they frequently invoke Blessed Stanislaus in prayer, knowing his powerful intercessory role.

“We work in the Pro-Life movement,” said Suzanne. “We pray to him for the end of abortion.”

For Christine Zacharewicz, of St. Louis, MO, Blessed Stanislaus inspires her toward holiness through imitation of Mary Immaculate.

“Through his example, I’ve learned about the beauty of Mary,” she said. “I’m grateful to him for starting this Congregation.”

Most of the Marian Helpers in attendance admit they were first drawn to the Marians not because of their Founder, but because of their love for the message of Divine Mercy, which the Marians have been entrusted to spread throughout the world. To their surprise, mercy was at the center of Blessed Stanislaus’s mission from the very beginning.

Indeed, Blessed Stanislaus lived a life in service to those in most need of mercy — soldiers on the battlefield, the sick, the elderly, and the suffering souls in purgatory. In one of his many books, The Mystical Temple of God, Blessed Stanislaus presented a way for laity to pursue holiness. First and foremost, he encouraged spiritual and corporal works of mercy.

“The Mystical Temple,” he wrote, referring to the human being, is “repaired by pious deeds.”

“He was speaking of Divine Mercy all the way back then,” said Purisima Narvaez, of California, who attended the beatification with her husband Dario.

“He has so much to offer the world today,” said Paul Albrecht, of Albany, NY, who attended the beatification with his wife, Rosemary. “He’s not a household name — yet.”