KAMLOOPS, B.C. — After more than 300 years in existence, the Marians of the Immaculate Conception are rejoicing at the ordination of their first Canadian priest.
Jonathan Inskip of Salmon Arm, B.C., was ordained in the order of the Marians on May 16 in Kamloops, with 20 of his brother priests and seminarians from the order’s American province of Stockbridge, Mass., in attendance. The celebration took place at the Sacred Heart Cathedral, presided over by Bishop David Monroe.
The order, founded in 1673 in Poland by Blessed Stanislaus Papczynski with the express intention of defending the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, has suffered a trying history. The Marians dwindled to merely one 76-year-old member by 1909, but revived. In 1941, it began its additional mission of spreading the devotion of Divine Mercy, shared by a then-obscure Polish nun, now St. Faustina Kowalska.
The Marians now again thrive, and will ordain five new priests this year, including Inskip.
Rev. Kaz Chwalek, provincial of the American chapter, sees the fittingness of the Divine Mercy message with the three-fold charism of the Marians: defence of the Immaculate Conception, care for the dying and souls in purgatory, and availability to the church’s needs.
Noting the Marians’ ideal of “sensing with the heart of the church,” Chwalek highlighted the current need in the world for mental, emotional, spiritual, and even bodily healing through the love, acceptance, and mercy of God.
“We see our mission particularly as renewal through the mystery of his mercy,” Chwalek said. “He doesn’t want people trapped in their own brokenness.”
The Marians host conferences as a means to sharing the Divine Mercy message, including conferences for doctors and medical personnel where a holistic approach to bodily healing is encouraged.
Among those who speak in the conferences hosted by the order are Rev. Donald Calloway and Rev. Michael Gaitley. Both have travelled extensively to speak and have authored books ordered to the promulgation of the Divine Mercy devotion.
“We wish that everyone would come to know God in his true nature — and his true nature is love and mercy. He loves us so much,” said Chwalek.
Chwalek expressed confidence in Inskip’s joining in the order’s mission in the world as priest.
“He is very consistent, he has a deep responsibility, so there is a lot of potential in him,” he said. “He has deep faith and a desire to offer himself to serve the people and serve the Lord, and in that way I am looking forward to his future as a good Catholic priest, as a priest who is a priest for the people.”
While Inskip had begun formation toward priestly ordination 12 years prior, attending Christ the King Seminary in Mission, B.C., and visiting other orders, the unique elements of the order, which was not originally on Inskip’s “radar,” eventually cemented his vocation.
“I think what makes our community unique is how God has worked in our history,” said Inskip. “We were almost extinct, down to literally one man, and God preserved us for a purpose. He entrusted us with the Divine Mercy message.”
Inskip will now go on to pursue licentiate studies in Rome, where he will stay at a house with members of the Marians from around the world.
Chwalek expressed great joy at Inskip’s ordination on behalf of the order.
“We are always very happy. It’s like a new child in the family, and the needs are so great.”