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Touching Hearts and Touching Lives
By Melanie Williams (Jun 2, 2016)
People come from all over the country to visit the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy, but not many are willing to spend two days in a van with 11 other people to make the journey! Mary Florence, Pat Stark, and 10 other women from St. Mary of the Miraculous Medal Parish in Texas City, Texas, have done just that. These women are part of the Eucharistic Apostles of The Divine Mercy cenacle at their parish that promotes the message of Divine Mercy given to St. Faustina.
"We are all involved in different ministries at our home parish. Some of us are in the St. Vincent de Paul Society; some are Eucharistic Ministers; some do Adoration; and some are in the Legion of Mary — different things," Pat explained. All of these ladies, along with other men and women, meet once a week to study the Diary of St. Faustina in conjunction with the Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and to pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. In order to live out the message of Divine Mercy in their daily lives, each member of the cenacle takes part in one of the 42 ministries and works of mercy programs at their parish.
One of the ladies explained, "Our group makes trips together. … We get newsletters from the National Shrine, and so we made a pilgrimage up here."
Another one of the ladies mentioned that she reads the Marian Helper magazine. She hadn't realized how long she had been connected with the National Shrine until she made this pilgrimage. "I was just at the office doing an offering, and [the woman at the Center] printed up my donations, and I looked up when I started making donations, and it was in 1998. I said to her that I couldn't believe I've been doing this for all these years! It doesn't seem like it's that long!"
Two of the women are missionaries to Guatemala. "We order the pamphlets from here and bring them with us on mission." Like St. Faustina, they have made it their mission to spread the message of Divine Mercy to the whole world in any way they can. "We are hoping that when we go back to our parish we will share our experiences from here."
Pat and some of the other ladies shared the intentions they brought with them to the Shrine: "We pray for our families and our parish." Another noted, "We have been praying for our country." Yet another added, "We pray that our children come back to their Catholic faith and upbringing."
They had set out on their pilgrimage looking forward to meeting other pilgrims and volunteers who would inspire them on their faith journeys. "We are trying to stay open, and we met Br. Adam and other seminarians here." They shared that it is inspiring to meet young people who dedicate their lives to the service of our Lord and the Church. The group also had other friends from the area who came to meet them and made a day out of it.
As the other ladies headed into the Shrine for the 3 o' clock chaplet, Mary stayed behind to share about a woman dear to her heart who founded the Diving Mercy Cenacle group. With tears in her eyes, she said, "Ruth Garner is a wonderful person. She is one of a kind, very religious and saintly. She has touched my heart. Just by being with you, the way she talks to you." Ruth's husband is ill and was not able to come on the trip as she was at home caring for him. "She's very giving and a good listener." Just bringing her to mind and talking about her brought up so many emotions for Mary. It was Ruth's help in founding the Divine Mercy cenacle and announcing it in their parish that helped the group grow. Mary Florence shared that it is because of Ruth and her gift of service to others and dedication to the message of Divine Mercy that St. Mary of the Miraculous Medal Parish's prayer group now has five different cenacles which meet at different days of the week and different times of the day so that people with different schedules have a chance to participate.
The cenacle ladies are planning to spend the night in Stockbridge, head out the next day towards Washington, D.C., to visit the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, and then go home to Texas to share their pilgrimage experiences.
Whether you live near the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy or far away, come make a pilgrimage to Eden Hill! These women will tell you it is worth it! See how you can start a cenacle.