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A Day of Healing and Mercy
By Joan Lamar (Jun 25, 2016)
Pilgrimage season is in full swing as 700 pilgrims gathered for Filipino Heritage Day in this Jubilee Year of Mercy at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, on Saturday, June 25.
The day, which included Adoration, Holy Mass, and the Divine Mercy Chaplet, began at 11 a.m. with picnics on the grounds as buses and cars streamed in from New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. Adoration began at 1 p.m. with recitation of the Rosary at 1:30 p.m., and Confession was available throughout the day.
The main celebrant for the Liturgy, which started at 2 p.m., was Fr. Bob Vennetti, MIC. Monsignor Jeremias Rebanal, from the archdiocese of Newark, was the homilist. As the Liturgy began, Fr. Bob said Msgr. Rebanal has been bringing Filipino Catholics to the Shrine for 20 years! "Monsignor Rebanal has done much to encourage the Filipino faithful of New Jersey to organize Divine Mercy Sunday celebrations in their own parishes, so they come up as a group in June to celebrate this special day for Filipinos at the Shrine," Fr. Bob said.
In his homily, Msgr. Rabenal welcomed the pilgrims, speaking in English and in Spanish, and noted that the Spanish culture is still very much part of the Filipino culture. He recognized various groups from all over the Northeast (the biggest cheer came when he mentioned New Jersey), and said Filipinos really represent the whole world because there are so many Filipinos all over the world. He told those gathered that we have to pray for all those families who are separated by this migration phenomenon because it breaks families. He knows this from his work in the tribunal in his home archdiocese, and said that we need to listen to Pope Francis when he says, "Take care of families."
Monsignor Rabenal said today's Gospel about the healing of the centurion's daughter tells us why we need to come to Jesus. "We all need healing," he said. "We need God's healing, God's forgiveness, and God's mercy! And the best gift we can give to God in this Jubilee Year of Mercy is to come to Him and ask for His forgiveness and His mercy."
Check out his full homily:
Hermie and Pete Amolet drove up from Framingham, Massachusetts, with their daughter, Jennifer, who lives in New Jersey. "We come at least once a year," Pete said, "but this past Divine Mercy Sunday we were unable to make it because my wife was not feeling well and the weather was snowy." His daughter Jennifer said that it's her father's birthday next week, so they decided to come to the Shrine to celebrate his birthday all together.
Dwight Malapit, president of the Filipino Apostolate of Union County in New Jersey, said he has been coming up to the Shrine for the past two decades. He brought two buses from Union County in New Jersey this year and another two buses came from Jersey City, he said. "Divine Mercy has been a devotion since childhood because my parents taught it to me," he said. This past Divine Mercy Sunday, he and his wife visited the Divine Mercy Sanctuary in Krakow, Poland, and he said he was amazed at how full the churches were there. "The Catholic faith is still very strong in Poland," he added.
Maria, who lives in New Jersey, but is originally from Croatia, has been to the Shrine nine times so far and describes this experience as "an oasis of peace." Maria has been praying for priestly vocations since 1974 and said she now is praying for families, because that's where vocations to the priesthood and religious life will come from. "We need good families!"