By Dan Valenti (Aug 3, 2009)
Rick St. Hilaire isn't your "typical" Divine Mercy devotee, if such a thing exists. Every workday as district attorney in Grafton County, N.H., the law requires that he be concerned with justice, not mercy.
As chief prosecutor and senior law enforcement official in northwestern New Hampshire, he spends his days fighting on behalf of victims of homicide, arson, sexual assaults, and other type of egregious crime.
But, again, Rick St. Hilaire isn't your "typical" district attorney. He has a strong devotion to the message of Divine Mercy that colors his approach to enforcing the law. Justice demands punishment while mercy requires forgiveness: How do the two seeming opposites intermingle?
"Administering justice is a responsibility given to me as a prosecuting attorney," Rick says. "While justice is rooted in jurisprudence and legal precedents, mercy is typically a function of the individuals who apply the law. That is why it might be said that justice operates under the law while mercy operates through trust.
"Saint Faustina Kowalska provides insight into the operation of mercy and how it's distributed when she explains that trust is an essential condition to receive mercy," he says. "So when an offender takes responsibility for committing a crime and places trust in those with authority, it is possible to attain mercy."
To deepen his knowledge of Divine Mercy, Rick plans to attend the North American Congress on Mercy, Nov. 14-15, at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., where he first learned of Divine Mercy while in the nation's capital as a law student. Rick sees this as part of his plan to help develop the growth of the Divine Mercy message and devotion in his parish.
With the permission of his pastor, Fr. William Kaliyadan of Sacred Heart Parish in Lebanon, Rick is organizing a bus group to make the pilgrimage to the Congress.
"So far, my volunteer work for the Congress is in organizing this parish trip," Rick says. "Other than that, I wrote an e-mail offering to volunteer and have not been told what might need to be done. God will let me know what I'm doing, I am sure."
Rick also says he has met with Fr. Kaliyadan about forming a Divine Mercy prayer group. His pastor has become interested in the message of God's mercy.
"My hope is that NACOM will contribute to the revitalization of the Catholic Church in America by broadcasting the message of Divine Mercy," he says. "This message strengthens vocations to religious life, restores broken families, promotes a culture of life, and reignites cooled faith."
Rick hopes that by attending NACOM, he can find "a fresh approach" to experience God's love and to share it with others "so mercy can be put into action." He intends to do this at the local level, in his parish, where he can have the most impact.
If, like Rick, you want to put mercy into action through NACOM, visit mercycongress.org.