Shrine welcomes new chaplain, Father James Walling, CPM

The National Blue Army Shrine welcomes our new chaplain, Father James Walling, a priest of the Congregation of the Fathers of Mercy (CPM). Father Walling is replacing Father Michael Venditti, who has served as the Shrine chaplain since 2014, and has taken a new assignment in his hometown of Bethesda, Maryland.

A Jackson, MI native, Father Walling served four years in the U.S. Navy before entering the CPM novitiate in 1995. He attended St. Philip Neri Oratory Seminary in Toronto and Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Cromwell, CT. Since his ordination in 2001, he has ministered as a Parochial Vicar in four parishes, has done mission preaching and was chaplain for Wyoming Catholic College, the University of Oshkosh and the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in Champion, Wisconsin.

While a sophomore in high school, Father Walling became on fire with his Catholic faith, which sparked a desire for the priesthood. He began reading Catholic books, going to confession regularly, attending daily Mass and praying the Rosary. In his quest for Catholic materials, he discovered “Mary, Mother of Christ Crusade,” a book about the Fatima apparitions by Father John De Marchi, I.M.C., and a favorite, “The Secret of the Rosary”. He also came across materials from The Blue Army, which he didn’t know much about, but would see Soul Magazine in the church racks.

“I was enthralled with knowing about the Mother of God appearing at Fatima and it was an approved apparition. And I knew God was not going to lie to me through his Church, and God was not going to lead me astray regarding faith and morals,” he says. “I would tell people about Our Lady of Fatima, but not everyone was on fire like me, so I knew maybe it was God telling me about Our Lady.

“Mother Angelica used to say, ‘How did you get zapped?’ I think Our Lady zapped me right in those high school years and a tool of that was knowledge of the apparitions of Fatima.”

In 2016, while serving as chaplain for the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in Wisconsin, by God’s providence, he met Deacon Bob Ellis, the WAF national coordinator, who lives in the area and serves at the shrine. That is how Father Walling learned about the National Blue army Shrine in New Jersey.

When his assignment ended in June 2017, Father Walling came to the Blue Army Shrine as a guest priest and to assist Father Michael Venditti with chaplaincy duties during the Fatima centennial. When Father Michael took on a new assignment in the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., Father Walling was asked to fill his role.

Part of the CPM mission is to evangelize by doing parish missions and retreats, and also staffing parishes and serving as chaplains at shrines and other venues. In his discernment, the Blue Army shrine offered this role, including the work of being a retreat master. Father Walling also found it significant that he was moved by Our Lady of Fatima so many years earlier and was now being asked to serve at a shrine dedicated to her.

“Our charism is to give mercy, to be one who not just simply preaches the truth, but we demonstrate it by giving mercy in the confessional and by works of mercy—being kind and charitable to the wounded of the world, those who are lonely and hungering for God. It’s our mission to instill in souls a deep love for the Father that will override the fear of themselves, of their sins, and have confidence that they can be forgiven. So I am confident that the Father of Mercy will attract people to God’s mercy and the Catholic faith,” he says.

Father Walling particularly enjoys interacting with the people who visit the shrine— so many of whom he met during the centennial events in 2017.

“I love being with the people, blessing their items after Mass, walking around with them while they are at the shrine, giving travel blessings, that hospitality of being available to them; to be the face of the place so that when people go away it’s not just an idea that they experienced, but they remembered someone,” he says.

A lover of nature, he also enjoys the natural surroundings of the shrine—the rabbits, deer and even the stink bugs! Growing and tending flower gardens is one of his hobbies, and he looks forward to being directly involved in beautifying the shrine and the flower gardens in particular.


Thank you Father Michael Venditti

We wish to extend our gratitude to Father Michael Venditti for his service as shrine chaplain since June of 2014. In February, he took on a new assignment at the parish where he grew up, St. Jane Francis de Chantal, in Bethesda, Maryland. He will take up the duties of ministry to Suburban Hospital as well as the assisted living facilities and nursing homes in the parish. May God bless him in his new assignment.


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1 Comment
  1. I am thrilled to hear of Fr. Walling’s assignment to the Shrine family! I met Fr. James in the Fall at a Cursillo weekend, and was so taken by his kindness toward us, especially when we needed a priest to say Mass in an emergency! I have prayed that Fr James be assigned to the Shrine,and it seems that my prayers have been answered! Welcome Fr. Walling!

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