International News

Marian Fathers Elect Popular Priests Father Chris Alar, Father Don Calloway As U.S. Leaders

Marian Fathers Chris Alar and Donald Calloway, elected to top leadership positions in their congregation May 15,2023, are seen in an undated photo. Father Alar was elected provincial superior of the U.S. and Argentina for the Marians of the Immaculate Conception. Father Calloway was elected the congregation’s vicar provincial and first councilor. (OSV News photo)

By Gina Christian

(OSV News) — Two priests renowned for their efforts to promote devotion to the Divine Mercy have been appointed leaders of their congregation’s provincialate.

The Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception (MIC) announced that Father Chris Alar has been elected provincial superior of the U.S. and Argentina, with fellow Marian Father Donald Calloway named vicar provincial and first councilor.

Father Mark Baron, Father Thaddeus Lancton and Father Kenneth Dos Santos have been elected second, third and fourth councilors respectively.

Both Father Alar and Father Calloway, who have each written several books, maintain active speaking and media appearance schedules encouraging devotion to the Divine Mercy. The MIC provincialate in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, houses the National Shrine of the Divine Mercy.

Approved by the Vatican in 1978, the devotion, which reaffirms the merciful nature of God as revealed in Scripture and in Jesus Christ, originated with 20th-century Polish mystic St. Maria Faustina Kowalska. A Sister of Our Lady of Mercy, the unassuming saint had reportedly enjoyed numerous visions from 1931 to 1938 in which Christ urged her to promote devotion to his mercy through various prayers, an annual feast and an image featuring rays of blood and water issuing from his heart.

Founded in Poland during the late 17th century by St. Stanislaus Papczynski, the Marian congregation now counts 381 priests and 43 brothers serving in 19 countries, including the U.S., Argentina, Belarus, Brazil, Cameroon, Czech Republic, Germany, India, Italy, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.

Under Russian oppression, the congregation was reduced in the early 20th century to a single member, Lithuanian-born Blessed George Matulaitis. Known as the order’s “renovator,” he refounded the congregation in 1910, rewriting its constitutions and encouraging vocations with papal and episcopal approval. Matulaitis also stressed cooperation between the order and the laity, which formed the basis of what is now the MIC’s Association of Marian Helpers, through which participants can support the order spiritually and financially.