April 11, 2012
Contact: David Came, Editor, 413-298-1320
DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY WEEKEND WILL DRAW OVER 18,000
PILGRIMS TO STOCKBRIDGE APRIL 14-15
Where: The National Shrine of The Divine Mercy, Stockbridge, Mass.
What: News and feature story opportunities for Divine Mercy Sunday Weekend.
When: April 14-15 (Divine Mercy Sunday Weekend)
WE WELCOME ALL MEDIA WHO MAY WISH TO ATTEND THE WEEKEND.
STOCKBRIDGE, Mass. — More than 18,000 people are expected to attend the annual Divine Mercy Sunday Weekend festivities this Saturday and Sunday, April 14-15, at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy, the home of the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception. The annual event is hosted by the Marian Fathers, who are well known for their promotion of The Divine Mercy message.
An international broadcast of The Marian Fathers’ celebration will air on the EWTN global cable network beginning at 12:00 p.m. EST with a one-hour program preceding the celebration. Featured guests are Ralph Martin, Christina Klein, and Terry Barber. The program will be followed by a solemn Mass at 1:00 p.m. and conclude with the singing of the Divine Mercy Chaplet at 3:00 p.m., recognized as the hour that Jesus died on the cross.
Ralph Martin is the president of Renewal Ministries, an organization devoted to Catholic renewal and evangelization. Renewal Ministries is the sponsor of “The Choices We Face,” a widely viewed weekly Catholic television and radio program distributed throughout the world. The organization also engages in a wide variety of mission work in more than 30 countries.
Christina Klein is a graduate of Bowling Green State University and resides in Columbus, Ohio where she has been active over the past six years serving in the Columbus Diocese. She is the founder of the Columbus Catholic Women’s Conference, which has been attended by over 7,000 women since its inception in 2008. Christina is also the vice president for St. Gabriel Catholic Radio, where she is the host of “From the Chair with Bishop Campbell.”
Terry Barber is the founder of Saint Joseph Communications, the Catholic Resource Center, and Lighthouse Catholic Media. He is a co-host for “Reasons for Faith Live with Jesse Romero” on the EWTN Radio Network. Saint Joseph Communications is one of the largest international Catholic audio and video production and distribution companies in the United States. Terry is a pioneer in lay Catholic evangelization with more than 30 years experience.
Throughout the weekend, the 350-acre Divine Mercy Shrine campus is transformed into a small city providing a rich, spiritual experience to pilgrims visiting from throughout the world. Translators providing assistance in Spanish, Polish, Italian, French, and Tagalog are among the more than 600 volunteers on site throughout the weekend to assist with a myriad of responsibilities, ranging from overseeing parking to receiving prayer intentions and staffing the outdoor shrines and the grotto.
Of particular interest at this year’s Divine Mercy Sunday celebration is the international debut on the EWTN telecast of HAPP, Hearts Afire Parish-based Programs for the New Evangelization. Developed by Association of Marian Helpers Director Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC, this unique program provides a fresh and supportive approach to parish-based faith renewal involving small groups. Since becoming director, Fr. Gaitley has identified the need for faith-renewal programs in parishes. He will introduce HAPP on EWTN.
Unfolding in stages, the program involves a series of books, leader guides and retreat companions designed to teach, inspire, and reignite a love of God and neighbor among parishioners. Its uniqueness is underscored by the availability of direct support from the Association of Marian Helpers to parish groups as they engage in the three-stage group-retreat and study program. Two of Fr. Gaitley’s books from the HAPP program, 33 Days to Morning Glory and Consoling the Heart of Jesus have consistently received high praise for their popular, engaging, and creative approach to evangelization.
Anyone is welcome to attend Divine Mercy Sunday Weekend. The Marian Fathers extend a warm invitation to everyone to come to Eden Hill in Stockbridge to experience this annual celebration. There is no charge for admission. This event is also an enriching experience for ministry groups, Confirmation candidates, and any religious education classes, grades 9-11, to observe and share in the devotion of thousands of pilgrims.
In addition to its annual celebration of Divine Mercy Sunday, the National Shrine sponsors a variety of events and guest speakers throughout the year. Scheduled for Sunday, April 29 at 3:45 p.m. is a presentation by Sr. Marie Simon-Pierre Normand. She will share her testimony of a miraculous healing through the intercession of Blessed John Paul II, which came two months after his death. Sister Marie Simon-Pierre’s healing was recognized as the miracle needed for John Paul II’s beatification. There is no charge for the presentation. More information on this event and Divine Mercy Sunday can be obtained at www.thedivinemercy.org/shrine.
For media wishing to use pictures of recent Divine Mercy Sunday celebrations, go to www.thedivinemercy.org/media.
For the most up-to-date information, call 413-298-3931 or e-mail [email protected]. If you plan to cover Divine Mercy Sunday Weekend, you will need to show your credentials to park on the Marians’ Eden Hill property. Once on the grounds, please come to the Media Tent located across from the Marian Monastery for your access pass.
Divine Mercy Sunday Fact Sheet
What is Divine Mercy Sunday?
Also known as “The Feast of Mercy,” Divine Mercy Sunday marks the Second Sunday of Easter (also the “Octave Day” of Easter) and the fulfillment of one of our Lord’s most imperative requests made to the Polish mystic, St. Faustina Kowalska, in a series of revelations in the 1930s. The Lord’s will with regard to the feast day’s establishment was already made known in His first revelation to the saint, which she recorded in her now-famous Diary. In all, there were 14 revelations concerning the desired feast. “The Feast of Mercy,” He said, “emerged from My very depths of tenderness. It is My desire that it be solemnly celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter. Mankind will not have peace until it turns to the Fount of My mercy” (Diary, 699).
But why did Jesus want Divine Mercy Sunday to be held in such high regard by His people?
In short, the main reason Jesus wanted this feast to be established is that He wanted to “throw a lifeline,” so to speak, to souls who are perishing, souls who are drowning in sin and despair. That lifeline is this feast, with all the tremendous promises of graces and benefits that Jesus attached to it.
What are those promises and graces and how must we prepare for this feast?
This is how we are to prepare:
1. Go to confession, preferably during the Lenten season.
2. Receive Holy Communion on the feast day.
As to the special graces and promises, Christ told St. Faustina:
“I want to grant a complete pardon to the souls that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion on the Feast of My mercy” (Diary, 1109).
“Whoever approaches the Fount of Life on this day will be granted complete forgiveness of sins and punishment” (Diary, 300).
“The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion will obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment” (Diary, 699).
When did Divine Mercy Sunday become an official feast day for the universal Church?
Pope John Paul II made the surprise announcement of this change in his homily at the canonization of St. Faustina on April 30, 2000. There, he declared: “It is important then that we accept the whole message that comes to us from the word of God on this Second Sunday of Easter, which from now on throughout the Church, will be called ‘Divine Mercy Sunday.’ ”
What is the significance of the image of The Divine Mercy?
The image of Jesus, The Divine Mercy, is to have a special place of honor on the Feast of Mercy, a visual reminder of all that Jesus did for us through His Passion, death, and Resurrection … and a reminder, too, of what He asks of us in return — to trust Him and be merciful to others: “I want the Image to be solemnly blessed on the first Sunday after Easter, and I want it to be venerated publicly so that every soul may know about it” (Diary, 341).
But what does the image “mean”?
The Image of The Divine Mercy represents the risen Christ. These two rays signify the Sacraments of mercy (Baptism and Penance or Reconciliation, and the Eucharist). The Eucharist is the blood of souls, carrying life-sustaining food for our spiritual journey. The water points to the Sacraments of Baptism and Penance, in that through these Sacraments, our souls are washed clean.
We know how Pope John Paul II felt about the message of Divine Mercy. But what does his successor think about it?
With unmistakable clarity, Pope Benedict XVI underscores the words of his predecessor. He has said, “Mercy is the central nucleus of the Gospel message.”
Didn’t Pope Benedict XVI declare John Paul II blessed on May 1, 2011, which was Divine Mercy Sunday last year?
Yes, he did, describing the date chosen for the beatification as “very significant” and emphasizing how Pope John Paul II died on the vigil of the feast day in 2005.
Who are the Marians?
The Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception have been, since 1941, the authentic promoters of The Divine Mercy message and devotion. Their U.S. apostolic center is located at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. In 1993, Pope John Paul II gave the Marian Congregation a special mandate: “Be Apostles of Divine Mercy under the maternal and loving guidance of Mary.”
Learn more about the Shrine at thedivinemercy.org/shrine.