Read: Father Byers' Farewell | A Note of Gratitude to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Today is the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Happy feast day! On this day 27 years ago, Father John Byers was ordained to the sacred priesthood for the Diocese of Lansing. Three years later, upon the same Marian feast day, he was appointed pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary parish in Lansing. This week, after 24 years, he will pass on the baton as pastor to Father Jim Rolph.

In this beautiful reflection, Father Byers expresses his deep gratitude to the Blessed Virgin Mary for the maternal love expressed by her Immaculate Heart over all those years. Ave Maria! Father Byers writes:

The Immaculate Heart of Mary

Memorial Feast June 25th 2022

Today the Catholic Church throughout the world honors Mary under the title of “The Immaculate Heart of Mary.” This title signifies the great purity and love of the heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary for God. This purity is manifested in her “Yes” to the Father at the Incarnation, her love for, and cooperation with, the Incarnate Son in His redemptive mission, and her docility to the Holy Spirit, enabling her to remain free of the stain of personal sin throughout her life.

For me this day is most significant because 27 years ago I was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Lansing on the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary which is a movable feast that always falls on the first Saturday following the second Sunday after Pentecost.

Twenty-four years ago, Bishop Mengeling appointed me as pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Lansing. I will celebrate those 24 years and my move to senior status with many members of my IHM family on June 25th. This day was selected well in advance by our Knights of Columbus without knowing that we would be gathering on “the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.”

A beautiful coincidence that tells me very clearly that our Blessed Mother has been watching over this priest with a love that only she can provide, for all of my priesthood, and frankly all my life. I have felt her presence and benefited from her intercession with the Holy Spirit in countless ways. I am so grateful for her love and care.

I would like to close this brief reflection with the Opening Prayer (Collect) from the Mass celebrated on this Memorial feast day:

“O God, who prepared a fit dwelling place for the Holy Spirit in the Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary, graciously grant that through her intercession, we may be a worthy temple of your glory. Through Our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.”

Jesus Through Mary

Fr. John Byers, Pastor