MOMM's flagship presentation: This film brings the... Read more
Photo: Felix Carroll
Dave Maroney, of Mother of Mercy Messengers, notes how more than 25 million Divine Mercy pamphlets have been distributed by the Marians at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy since the Marians became official promoters of the message back in 1941.
With a Special Presentation, Marians Thank Volunteers
Joan Maroney encourages Shrine volunteers to turn to St. Faustina as a model of the spiritual life.
By Felix Carroll (Jun 21, 2010)
At the spiritual home of Divine Mercy in North America, Mother of Mercy Messengers brought a special group of people to the heart of the Divine Mercy message.
The occasion was a "Volunteer Retreat Day" on Saturday, June 19, at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy, in Stockbridge, Mass. The special day, hosted by the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception, honored and gave thanks to the more than 550 volunteers who tended to the physical and spiritual needs of more than 18,000 pilgrims during the annual Divine Mercy Sunday Weekend on April 10-11.
"This past Divine Mercy Sunday Weekend was one of the biggest days in the 50-year history of the National Shrine," said Carol Scott, pilgrim coordinator of the Shrine. "The volunteers who helped us were absolutely indispensable."
Saturday's retreat day was highlighted by a presentation from Mother of Mercy Messengers (MOMM), the Marian apostolate that travels the country spreading the message of The Divine Mercy. The Marians also held a barbecue for the volunteers at the end of the day, following Holy Mass and the praying of the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy.
"We've volunteered on Mercy Sunday when we had to shovel snow, and this year the weather was great. But no matter what the weather, we want to help," said Dick Briere, from New Hampshire, who attended the retreat day with his wife, Carol. The couple has been volunteering at the Shrine for 13 years.
"It's always awesome to be here at the Shrine, and we really enjoy volunteering," Carol said.
"We do it for God," said Shrine volunteer Marcelle, from Beckett, Mass., who was joined at the retreat day by her husband John.
"The Shrine is like home to me," said Don Lana, a Shrine volunteer from Pittsfield, Mass. "Father Michael Callea once told me 'You are home."
In opening remarks to the volunteers, Shrine Rector Fr. Anthony Gramlich, MIC, said, "We cannot serve all the Shrine visitors without you, and we wish to thank you for all that you do." He added that the most important factor in volunteering at the Shrine is "not how many Port-a-Potties we have available and all the logistics. Those things are important," he said. "But what's most important to us is that you are nourished here by the message of Divine Mercy."
'A Day of Prayer'
Indeed, since home is where the heart is, for the Shrine volunteers, their hearts rest with the message of The Divine Mercy.
With that in mind, the Marians invited Joan and Dave Maroney, the husband-and-wife team who prosthelytize under the name Mother of Mercy Messengers. As they have done for 10 years in more than 700 parishes around the country, Joan and Dave delved deep into the heart of The Divine Mercy message.
"Today, we join together as one spiritual body," said Dave. "This is a day of prayer. There's so much to be thankful for, and so much to pray for ... for ourselves and our families and for so many needs in the world."
Acknowledging the many evils in the world — terrorism, abortion, violence, sexual promiscuity, to name a few — Dave quoted St. Paul's famous words, "where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more" (Rom 5:20).
"Despite all the despair and sinfulness we see, across the nation we also see so many signs of hope in the many people uniting with Holy Mother Church through Divine Mercy," Joan said.
MOMM highlighted the promises Christ revealed through St. Maria Faustina Kowalska — promises for the saving of souls who place their trust in Christ's mercy.
"God wants to fulfill His promises through us," Joan said.
Dave and Joan, in their presentation at Eden Hill's Mother of Mercy Outdoor Shrine, gave the volunteers a crash course in Divine Mercy, a course that begins with a certain saint named Faustina who models for us how to place our trust in Jesus.
Jesus Appoints a 'Secretary'
In the first half of the 20th century, a young Polish girl named Helena Kowalska, with hardly any formal education, was called to have a special relationship with Jesus. Indeed, Helena, known today throughout the world as St. Maria Faustina (1905-38), was designated by our Lord Himself as the "Secretary" and "Apostle" of His mercy. The Lord told her: "You will prepare the world for My final coming" (Diary, 429).
She recorded His message of mercy in a diary — known today as the Diary of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska. The mission the Lord gave her was not only to remind the world of the great mercy of God as revealed in Sacred Scripture, but also to teach us new forms of devotion to The Divine Mercy and to initiate a movement of apostles of The Divine Mercy who show a childlike trust in God and love of neighbor.
As for the new forms of devotion, they include praying the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy, celebrating Divine Mercy Sunday, and venerating the Image of The Divine Mercy.
Joan and Dave underscored the importance of these devotions as a means to draw closer to Christ. As for the image, in 1931, our Lord appeared before St. Faustina. He was clothed in a white garment with His right hand raised in blessing. His left hand was touching His Heart, from where two large rays came forth, one red and the other pale. Jesus said to her:
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 (Diary, 327).
"Display this image in your homes," said Joan. "Give it out to friends and family members. Ask your priest to display it in your churches."
In a highlight of MOMM's presentation, Joan and Dave showed how the Shroud of Turin, venerated for centuries as the burial cloth of Jesus, is a perfect proportional representation of the features of Christ shown in the original image of The Divine Mercy, which was painted under the direction of St. Faustina.
"It makes perfect sense that these two images match," said Joan, "because after the horror of the crucifixion, there is the glory of the Resurrection, which is represented through the image of The Divine Mercy."
With the image of The Divine Mercy displayed against a white screen, Joan said, "Look at this image. This is not an angry God coming to condemn us. We have all sinned. We have all denied Jesus in many ways. No, this image speaks of tenderness, love and compassion. Our Lord pulls His robe aside to show us the rays of mercy flowing from His wounded Heart. And notice that our Lord is stepping towards us. He wants so much to bring us His light, His love, His forgiveness, His mercy."
Dave and Joan said they were honored to give their presentation on the grounds of the National Shrine, "a holy and special place for the salvation of the world," Joan said.
For anyone interested in becoming a volunteer, the Shrine has many needs throughout the year. Please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 413-298-3931.
For more information on MOMM, please visit the Mother of Mercy Messengers website.