Photo: Father Walter Dziordz, MIC, with young parishioners beside Our Lady of Peace's new garden.

Father Walter Dziordz, MIC, with young parishioners beside Our Lady of Peace's new garden.

Mercy, From the Ground Up

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Empowered by Jesus, the Catholic Church's central mission is to proclaim, practice and implore mercy. Arguably no message in modern times has served as a catalyst to accomplish this than the message of The Divine Mercy.

Like many parishes throughout the world, Our Lady of Peace in Darien, Ill., has experienced this first hand and now proclaim as much from their front lawn. The parish, administered by the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception, has recently unveiled the Divine Mercy Prayer Garden outside the 50-year-old church.

By means of the Divine Mercy Prayer Garden, "you can't help but be drawn in to contemplate Jesus' message of trust and God's mercy," says parishioner Dolores Trefelner.

"I find it very comforting to glance across the parking lot each morning on my way to Mass and to see that beautiful image," says parishioner Patricia Haney. "I hope the outdoor display will help many people to discover the meaning of this devotion, which springs from the Heart of Jesus Himself."

"It has helped me so much to meditate," says parishioner Ann Kaplan.

The garden is anchored by a more than six-feet-tall granite monument upon which color tiles depict the image of The Divine Mercy. The garden also includes personalized pavers with engraved dedications honoring parishioners and clergy.

The garden serves to underscore the parish's trust in the promises Jesus made to the world through the revelations of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, known as the secretary of Divine Mercy. Among those promises were those given to St. Faustina in a vision she had in 1931 that led to the painting of the original image of The Divine Mercy. She saw Jesus clothed in a white garment with His right hand raised in blessing. His left hand was touching His garment in the area of the Heart, from where two large rays came forth, one red and the other pale.

Jesus said to her: "Paint an image according to the pattern you see, with the signature: Jesus, I trust in You. I promise that the soul that will venerate this image will not perish. I also promise victory over [its] enemies already here on earth, especially at the hour of death. I Myself will defend it as My own glory" (Diary of St. Faustina, 47, 48). "I am offering people a vessel with which they are to keep coming for graces to the fountain of mercy. That vessel is this image with the signature: Jesus, I trust in You" (327). "I desire that this image be venerated, first in your chapel, and [then] throughout the world" (47).

H. Berardi, a parishioner of Our Lady of Peace, says the parish's replica of the original image appears to be "reaching out to you right from the stone tile. What a way to capture people's attention."

The Divine Mercy Prayer Garden was made possible through a generous financial donation willed to the parish by the late Frank and Irene Barta.

Father Walter Dziordz, MIC, pastor of Our Lady of Peace, recently blessed the garden. He says the garden was a "logical" use for the funds, considering the parish's many efforts to draw deeper into the message of The Divine Mercy. In recent years, the parish has invited Divine Mercy experts to give catechesis to the flock. Those experts include Fr. Seraphim Michalenko, MIC, the vice postulator for St. Faustina's beatification and canonization causes; Bryan Thatcher, founder of Eucharistic Apostles of The Divine Mercy; and Dave and Joan Maroney of Mother of Mercy Messengers.

"The devotion to The Divine Mercy has been pivotal to my religious Congregation, the Marians, for many years," Fr. Walter says. "Likewise, it has been a pivotal devotion at Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church."

For parishioners, the Divine Mercy Prayer Garden serves as a daily reminder of the Lord's love for us.

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