Photo: Courtesy of Frank and Marie Burke
One Leaflet Led to All of This
By Bob French
The smallest seed of faith can grow into something big. That's definitely the case with Marian Helpers Frank and Marie Burke, who first heard about The Divine Mercy message in 1985 when they lived near Tucson, Arizona.
Frank just happened to see a Xeroxed leaflet about then-Sr. Faustina. One of the first things that caught his eye was the fact that she was born in 1905.
"That was the same year my father was born," says Frank, "and I thought to myself, 'By golly, she's a new one!' She's a saint of our time, and that's what really appealed to me."
He wanted to know more, so he sent away for information from the Marians of the Immaculate Conception in Stockbridge, Mass. Once Frank and Marie began reading about the message of Divine Mercy, which was given to St. Faustina through a series of revelations with Jesus in the 1930s, they realized they had found something powerful.
"We were very devoted to Our Blessed Mother," says Frank. "We had promoted the Fatima apparitions. We always felt Our Blessed Mother was leading us to the foot of the cross, and when we learned about Divine Mercy, we realized that this was the foot of the cross. This was where she was leading us all along."
The Burkes knew they had to put it into action.
First, in 1987, they helped start the annual Divine Mercy Sunday celebration in the Diocese of Tucson. Then, in September 2001, they learned about Eucharistic Apostles of The Divine Mercy (EADM), a lay ministry of the Marians. The Burkes' desire to spread Divine Mercy was ignited by EADM, particularly the way EADM involved the laity in prayer, study, and works of mercy through their prayer cenacles.
That year, the Burkes began an EADM prayer cenacle at their new parish, St. Andrew the Apostle, in Sierra Vista, Arizona. In the last five years, the Burkes have started four additional cenacles, one for young mothers at St. Andrew's, one at a neighboring parish, one at a local military installation, and one at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Sierras, in nearby Hereford, Arizona.
The pastor of St. Andrew's was so impressed with EADM that he agreed to the construction of a Divine Mercy Eucharistic Adoration Chapel to go in the back of the new St. Andrew's church. The Chapel, which was dedicated this past Father's Day, has a three-dimensional icon of The Divine Mercy image suspended above the tabernacle.
In addition to their regular weekly meetings, the cenacles started by Frank and Marie do many works of mercy. They support a school and an orphanage across the Mexican border. They feed the homeless twice a month at the Salvation Army. They visit nursing homes and care centers around the diocese. They also distribute Divine Mercy literature.
"And I mean lots of literature — 30,000-plus pieces a year — and it's all free," says Frank.
Dr. Bryan Thatcher, the Founder of EADM, would be the first to agree that our good works begin with the "small seed" of prayer, and the awareness of how much we depend on God's mercy. The Burkes are "one example of people who want to learn, incorporate, and live the message of Divine Mercy," says Bryan.
Just as Sr. Faustina was a vessel for the rays of God's mercy, the Burkes are "letting God's rays of mercy come to them, through them, and out to a big area around Tucson," Bryan says.
Frank, who's retired from the awnings trade, says he's driven to spread Divine Mercy from the promise the Lord shared with St. Faustina. Jesus said: "Souls who spread the honor of my mercy I shield through their entire life as a tender mother her infant, and at the hour of death I will not be a Judge for them, but the Merciful Savior" (Diary, 1075).
Says Frank, "Man, you don't get a better promise than that!"
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For more information about EADM and starting a prayer cenacle in your area, click here.