Father Hlubik
Father Hlubik
Father Joseph Hlubik’s understanding of the need for God’s mercy has evolved over time, most especially in the more than six years since he was named a Missionary of Mercy and asked to be part of Pope Francis’ ministry of mercy in the U.S.

Father Hlubik, who serves in the Diocese as the pastor of Sacred Heart Parish, Bay Head, was one of only 100 priests in the nation who received the mandate to become a Missionary of Mercy in conjunction with the Holy Year of Mercy, instituted by the Pope in 2015.

The Holy Father had commissioned hundreds of priests from around the world to be “unique signs of God’s mercy” with a mandate to be preachers and confessors of mercy holding the faculty to forgive sins reserved to the Holy See. Since the inception of this special ministry, the number of missionaries accepted by the Pope has grown to more than 1,000 worldwide because of great interest by clergy.

In April 2022, Father Hlubik was among some 300 of these missionaries, both diocesan and religious clergy, who gathered in Rome for the third International Meeting of Missionaries of Mercy: A Sign of Welcome. The three-day event included two days of workshops, a Mass presided over by Pope Francis and an audience with the Pope.

The Trenton diocesan priest described the gathering as a meaningful opportunity to come together with others who “share in the ministry Pope Francis envisioned” to offer forgiveness to all, even the most desperate sinner who seeks reconciliation with God.

Father Hlubik describes being a Missionary of Mercy as a ministry of gratitude. “Of all people I have been treated mercifully by God. What is received, the comfort and mercy of God, should be extended to all people,” he said.

Missionaries of Mercy USA explain that their three-fold mission is “to preach about the Lord’s merciful love, to make that mercy as available as possible to as many as possible through the Sacrament of Confession, and to become more and more an icon of the Father’s merciful love and the Church’s maternal compassionate solicitude.”

Father Hlubik explained that all priests, by their Ordination, have the privilege and responsibility to preach mercy and offer the Sacraments of Penance and Reconciliation.  Missionaries of Mercy, he noted, are particularly charged with helping all people “rediscover the grace of the Sacrament of Reconciliation,” recalling the words of Pope Francis during the recent meeting: “Keep all forms of judgment away from you and always put the will to understand the person in front of you first. … Always. Always forgive. Don’t put it off.”

“I doubt that most people understand the ministry yet …” Father Hlubik said, acknowledging that he is still learning. “All of us are struggling to understand what the ministry and God’s mercy means” especially in times of polarization and strife, sharing that “it is hard to understand the ways of God when we see things that are so overwhelming. It is easy to give up on God.”

Because of this element of human nature, he said, “It is so important for people who feel that way – for believers and non-believers who want to believe – to contact a priest and talk about their bitterness toward God … to talk about finding it hard to believe in the goodness and mercy of God because of serious issues” and losses in their lives.

Since being accepted as a Missionary of Mercy, Father Hlubik also acknowledged his own changes on a personal level. “I have a deeper conversion to God and recognize how much I still need the mercy of God. Life is really a continuing conversion to the mercy of God,” he reflected.

At the close of the Jubilee of Mercy, Nov. 20, 2016, Pope Francis extended the Missionaries of Mercy mandate indefinitely, writing, “I have received many testimonies of joy from those who encountered the Lord once more in the Sacrament of Confession. Let us not miss the opportunity to live our faith also as an experience of reconciliation. Today too, the Apostle [Paul] urges us: ‘Be reconciled to God’ (2 Cor 5:20), so that all who believe can discover the power of love which makes us ‘a new creation’ (2 Cor 5:17).”