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Rev. Lawrence G. Lovasik

ON JUNE 22, 1913, I WAS BORN OF SLOVAK PARENTS IN Tarentum, Pennsylvania, a steel-town about twenty miles northeast of Pittsburgh. I am the eldest of eight children. At the age of twelve I was accepted as a student at the Sacred Heart Mission Seminary, Girard, Pennsylvania, conducted by the Fathers of the Society of the Divine Word. The object of the Society is to train boys for the holy priesthood and through them to propagate our Faith in foreign lands. At present more than 2,250 of its priests and 1,750 of its Brothers are working in the United States, Europe, and in the foreign missions.

After an intensive training of thirteen years, I was ordained to the priesthood at St. Mary's Mission Seminary, Techuy, Illinois, August 14, 1938, and was sent to the Gregorian Papal University in Rome for further studies. Later, after spending three years as a teacher and prefect of seminarians, I was assigned to do missionary work in the coal and steel regions of the United States. At this time I published a standard prayerbook and New Testament and other brochures in the Slovak language for the benefit of the people to whom I preached. My present work consists in giving missions and retreats to lay people and religious, -a work I love and at which I have spent the past fifteen years. My headquarters are at the Divine Word Seminary, Girard.

A question I am frequently asked is: "Father, how have you gotten interested in writing?" There were several influences that urged me to write, which I shall touch upon here. Being a missionary, I had occasion to observe the life of people at close range and to deal with their problems in the confessional and in private interviews. I became acquainted with their spiritual needs, with their personal and family difficulties, and with their individual plans and longings. As a priest I was to take Christ's place among them and imitate His compassionate Heart. He once said of priests: "You are the light of the world . . . Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and behold, I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world." In answer to this command of the Savior, I wanted to reach the hearts of people, but my voice could be heard only by those to whom I was able to preach. There were thousands of others who needed the help I could give. I realized that one of the most powerful means God has given us for spreading Christian principles and combatting non-Christian influences is the press. Though I was not specially gifted with a talent for writing, I was determined to work at it till I was able to present our Catholic people with the teaching of Jesus Christ in print. If God has chosen me to preach His truth and love among men, I wanted to do it in the most effective way I knew how, and that was by writing. My
publications would reach souls to whom I was unable to preach, and I could thereby continue teaching the truths of the Catholic Church and its wonderful means of salvation long after my mortal remains had been laid in the grave!

Life is short, and we must all give an account of it on the day of judgment. I am in earnest about using the time allotted to me by God on this earth to the best advantage in carrying out the ideal of my life-to make God more known and loved through my writings. A personal love for Jesus Christ, Our Lady, and immortal souls, as well as for Holy Mother Church, has been my inspiration to dedicate as much of my time as possible during and between missions and retreats to writing.

Since I have published about ten books and more than fifty booklets and pamphlets since 1943, I have often been asked how this was possible in my busy schedule of missionary assignments. The only answer I can give is that at least ninety percent of any writer's accomplishments are due to plain and ordinary hard work. In the case of a priest, it is the grace of God that brings blessing upon this work so that it may be profitable for the salvation of souls. In order that my work might be most effective, I have always tried to write with simplicity and sincerity, and to present my material in a practical manner. This is the reason why almost all my publications deal with spiritual subjects. This is my way of doing priestly work for the salvation of souls.

One of my special aims in writing is to teach people to pray much. Prayer is one of the channels of grace. It is the cure for most of our daily problems. Hence, almost half of my writings are in prayer form. Such books as Mary My Hope and Treasury of Prayer and Praying the Gospels (Marian Action Publications, 211 W. 7th av., Tarentum, Pa.) have been distributed far and wide. I have given special emphasis to Eucharistic devotion-the Mass,Holy Communion, Real Presence-which is the very heartbeat of our Catholic religion. This is the reason for booklets like Mass Prayers, Communion Prayers, Eucharistic Visits, Communion Crusade, Novena of Holy Communions, and Stepping Stones to Sanctity, one of my most popular books.

In many of my writings I have tried to give help and consolation to those who are sick and afflicted. So Gentle His Hand and four pamphlets on various diseases (cancer, tuberculosis, heart condition, nervous and mental conditions), with a patron for each, have been widely distributed. The apostolate to the sick is one of my favorite projects.

One of my hobbies is teaching by the use of visual aids. This accounts for publications in rich color, like The Catholic Picture Bible and The Mass for Children; illustrations in story-form like Catechism in Stories (Marian Action Publications), and sketch talks in What Catholics Believe.

My earliest and perhaps most encouraging experience in the field of writing was the publication of the letters of my brother Leo who was killed in the service of his country. He was in the Air Corps, and though he was the only Catholic in his crew, succeeded in naming his Liberator bomber "Valiant Virgin," in honor of Our Lady. I wanted our boys in the service, and also our Catholic people, to know how much this youth loved his Faith and his heavenly mother, and so I wrote Knight of Our Lady, Queen of the Skies. This booklet was reprinted three times in 1943, and a hundred thousand copies were distributed during World War II. In 1956 I published two books: one, a tribute to Our Lady, God's Mother and Yours, and the other a tribute to my brother Leo, High Flight (Marian Action Publications).

One of the greatest experiences of my life was the founding of the Sisters of the Divine Spirit in August, 1955. This modern American religious Congregation of home and foreign missionaries is an answer to the appeal of Pope Pius XII for the adaption of the religious life to the needs and problems of our time. His principle and wish is: Modernization without mitigation. Accordingly the Rule of the Sisters is based upon our American traditions with a double ideal: sanctification of the individual and sanctification of the Christian family. The Sisters wear a modern garb, much the same as that worn by women in the military service. They teach in schools, conduct catechetical classes, visit homes for census and instruction, aid in social work; in short, they do any type of apostolic work that the Church may call upon them to do. It is the first "modern" community of its kind in our country and its growth has been very rapid-fifty members and approval from Rome in one year! The Sisters of the Divine Spirit also spread the printed word to Catholics and non-Catholics alike. Through these generous women, consecrated to the Divine Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, I hope to further extend the influence of the Catholic Press in our country and beyond its shores.

It is only by the grace of God that souls are saved. This grace can be obtained by prayer and sacrifice. Realizing the fact that I am an unworthy and very imperfect instrument in God's hands, I have always appealed for co-missionaries who will pray for me and offer their work and suffering at least one day each week that God may bless my work. If I have any success as a writer, it is certainly due almost entirely to this apostolate of prayer and sacrifice and, above all, to the grace of God!

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