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Page Background TRANSFORM YOUR PARISH. TRANSFORM THE WORLD. Visit AllHeartsAfire.org or call 1-844-551-3755 to learn more about the Hearts Afire programs. Make a big difference in your parish and community with your small-group retreat from Hearts Afire, written by Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC.

were already well primed. In 2015, Bishop

Scharfenberger had encouraged his diocese to

make the consecration to Mary using

33 Days

to Morning Glory.

“It was like a grace bomb was dropped on

our diocese,” says Bishop Scharfenberger.

By means of the consecration, which nearly

2 million people worldwide have made, Bishop

Scharfenberger and many of his pastors wit-

nessed a spiritual hunger that had hitherto

remained hidden.

He isn’t the only bishop to now turn his

diocese’s gaze to

33 Days to Merciful Love.

Archbishop of Kansas City Joseph F. Naumann,

too, has encouraged his flock to conclude the

Jubilee Year by making the consecration.

Opening doors

It makes perfect sense to pastors such as

Fr. Rendell Torres, who leads two parishes in

the rural northern reaches of the Diocese of

Albany. Like many clergy, he was struggling with what

it might mean when the Holy Father concludes the

Jubilee Year, which coincides with the closing of desig-

nated Holy Doors at basilicas, cathedrals, and shrines

around the world.

“Does mercy ‘close’ with the end of the Jubilee Year?

Obviously not,” says Fr. Torres. “So the consecration to

Divine Mercy is such that the doors of our hearts will

now be opened. We can receive the mercy of God that

others reject and then give it back to the world by being

channels of His mercy through our actions and testimony

to the mercy of God in our lives.”

“To be consecrated means we become seeds planted in

our diocese,” Fr. Torres says. “I don’t know how quickly

the change will occur, but I do know we really need

this now.”

‘I wring my hands’

Back at Holy Trinity Parish on the opening night, Fr.

Slezak leads a closing prayer, which is punctuated by a

round of applause.

A life-siz

e image of Jesus, the Divine Mercy,

is set front

and center in the gymnasium. In the image, Jesus steps

from the darkness — His right hand raised in blessing,

His left hand opening His garment to expose His wound-

ed Heart. To those who eschew Christianity in no small

part due to the misperception that God is a wrathful

judge, punitive to rule-breakers, it’s worth noting that in

this famous image, Jesus is not pointing fingers.

“You know,” says Alice, making her way past the

image and toward the exit, “I wring my hands on a daily

basis: ‘What else can I be doing?’ There is nothing else I

haven’t already done. I’m reminded tonight that when

you don’t know what to do, when you feel hopeless, all

you can do is to put it all into God’s hands and say, ‘You

got to help me with this.’

“I think that’s where we are as a diocese,” she says.

“That’s where we are as families.”

Father Slezak opens the door for her.

“Well,” he says, “what I do know is that God is at work

here. I know He is.”

For the sake of their family and their diocese, David and Alice

Benamati of Cohoes, New York, will consecrate themselves to the

Divine Mercy on Nov. 13.

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elix

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