Photo: Felix Carroll

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Joan and Dave Maroney on their wedding day, July 4, 1992.

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Joan Maroney does some office work on the road.

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Dave Maroney stands by the star of the show, an image of Jesus, The Divine Mercy, at St. Paul Church in Mission, Texas..

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Father Seraphim Michalenko, MIC, the vice-postulator in North America for St. Faustina's canonization cause, says Dave and Joan's program brings people "into the very mystical center of Saint Faustina's mission."

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This is the second in a three-part series on Mother of Mercy Messengers, the Marian apostolate who travel the world spreading Divine Mercy. Read part 1.

By Felix Carroll

Before they married, they took a compatibility test. Their priest had never known a couple to score so high.

Compatibility is a priceless commodity when you're on the frontline of popular evangelism, when you've spent the better part of nine years traveling America's highways and back roads to bring Divine Mercy to the people of God.

So when Dave Maroney takes a wrong turn off Route 83 in McAllen, Texas, as he has just done now, and they wind up suddenly stuck in commuter traffic, there's no shouting, no tension, no white knuckles on the steering wheel.

Joan, his wife, scans the landscape, and together they determine an appropriate place to turn their RV around. And that's that.

Since January 2001, Dave and Joan Maroney — known as Mother of Mercy Messengers (MOMM), an apostolate of the Marians of the Immaculate Conception — have given close to 600 live programs to more than 75,000 people. Along the way, they've endured their share of wrong turns, equipment breakdowns, money troubles, you name it.

A dashboard-mounted global positioning system continually marks their place on the map. The words "Jesus, I trust in You" continually marks their place in eternity.

"It's been an incredible, blessed experience to be able to travel and to meet people, the faithful, to meet the hundreds of priests, and to see God working in people's lives," says Dave.

"It's just such a hurting world," says Joan. "So many people are suffering. They need to know about God's mercy."

Office on wheels
This past February, Dave and Joan's tour schedule brought them near the border of Mexico in southern Texas. While other motorists are on their way to work, the Maroneys are already at work This big-shouldered Chevrolet RV, towing a trailer packed with sacred images, sound and lighting systems, and stacks of Divine Mercy material, is their home on the road, and their office.

Joan is sitting at a makeshift desk, paying bills, going over logistics for upcoming dates, and talking on the cell phone with their administrative assistant several hundred miles north in their brick-and-mortar office in Center Point, Texas. Dave is doing the driving, heading for a printing shop to pick up promotional materials for upcoming events. This evening, they will be giving a presentation to students in Mission, Texas.

Outside the windows, the south Texas scenery goes by as if on a conveyer belt. Old grapefruit orchards, new tract housing, and the unmistakable mesquite trees that crop from the earth at odd angles around these parts. Like the mesquite trees, the Maroneys are drought-hardy Texans. Nourished by their baptismal promise, they reach for heaven from a broken world and inspire others to do the same.

A choice to trust
The two met in 1990 in Corpus Christi, Texas, Dave's hometown. His band was playing at a convention. Joan was there on business. Dave recalls seeing Joan in the crowd. He made it a point to meet her. They hit it off immediately.

"It took a long time — probably 24 hours — for me to fall completely in love with her," jokes Dave.

Joan, a single mother of three young children at the time, had recently divorced. She had also recently returned to her Catholic faith. Dave, raised Southern Baptist, wished to accompany Joan on her spiritual journey, and he eventually converted to Catholicism.

As Dave and Joan grew closer, Joan's pursuit of a marriage annulment proved to be a turning point for both her and Dave. On March 24, 1992, Joan was in Eucharistic Adoration when she made an extraordinary promise to the Lord. Painful as it was, she told Jesus that if the annulment did not come through she would completely submit to the wisdom of the Church and put her trust in Him. Since she wouldn't be free to marry, she promised she would then break off her relationship with Dave. "I gave it over to the Lord and Our Lady," says Joan.

The following day, she learned her annulment was approved. From then on, unequivocal trust in Jesus became the hallmark in Joan's and Dave's life together.

"Something we've seen over and over again in our growth and in our faith is that the more you give up your will to the will of Jesus and His Church, the more you're blessed," says Dave.

On their wedding day on July 4, 1992, the priest exhorted the compatible couple to be an example to others. Dave and Joan had no idea the work the Lord had in store for them.

A Divine Mercy call
By 1998, they had moved to the Texas hill country. Dave was a public school teacher. Joan was a marketing manager.

One February morning, Joan went to Mass at her local parish before going to work. She recalls how she kept thinking about St. Faustina (Blessed Faustina at the time) whose revelations in the 1930s have sparked the modern Divine Mercy movement. After Mass, a parishioner named Louise grabbed Joan by the arm and said, "I'm glad you are here. I wanted my friends to meet you. ... They give talks on Divine Mercy."

Joan got goose bumps. Here was Louise — a woman whom, until then, she had only exchanged simple pleasantries — now talking to her about Divine Mercy, of all things.

Joan, Louise and her two friends went to a local coffee shop. Joan was intrigued by the couple's work to spread Divine Mercy. The meeting adjourned and headed to Louise's home where the couple demonstrated how the face of the original Divine Mercy image —known as the Vilnius image — and the face of the Shroud of Turin match up perfectly. Standing directly in front of the life-size image, Joan was awestruck. Tears ran down her cheeks. She murmured, "I have to do this."

Joan herself was taken aback by her own words. She looked around the room. Louise's guests eagerly invited her to give talks about Divine Mercy in the area. They told Joan how help was needed to form Eucharistic Apostle of The Divine Mercy prayer groups, or cenacles. "Get her whatever she needs," Louise told the couple. "I'll take care of it."

When Joan picked up Dave from work later that afternoon, she was excited. "Guess what, honey? We're getting big pictures of Jesus and Mary, and we're going to give talks in the area about The Divine Mercy and Our Lady!"

Dave smiled. The idea sounded great to him. They had been part of a cenacle for many years. They figured sharing the concept with others would be good work. But then, in August, the plan changed. It turns out their calling to spread Divine Mercy was much bigger than they had anticipated. Louise's friends contacted Joan and Dave and told them how they had been praying for a team to travel across the country to make Divine Mercy presentations. "We think you guys are that team," they told Dave and Joan.

The signature on the bottom of The Divine Mercy image is Jesus, I trust in You, and the Maroneys were being called to trust as they had never imagined — to leave behind careers and the comfort of home.

As they were trying to decide what to do, Joan would often hear in her heart the words of Jesus to St. Faustina, "Do whatever is within your power to spread devotion to My Mercy" (Diary of St. Faustina, 1074). Having consecrated themselves and their family to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary early in their marriage, Joan and Dave felt certain that this was a calling, a special vocation given to them by Our Lady.

Especially suited
Indeed, they seemed especially suited. Dave's experience as a professional musician would offer expertise to run sound and lighting. Getting up in front of a crowd would be nothing new to him. Joan had a marketing background, and what could be greater than "marketing" the Lord and His promises? She had professional presentation skills and several years experience in youth ministry.

"Plus," says Joan, "I'm a divorced mother of three. We've gone through many of the difficulties that others have gone through. We're not perfect people preaching 'from on high.' We're normal people who have struggled but who have relied on our faith and applied our faith through day-to-day struggles. And I think that helps people to see how God is reaching out to all of us, no matter where we are in our lives, and no matter what we've done or what sins we've committed. "

Thus, the journey began. By January 2001, Dave and Joan became known as Mother of Mercy Messengers, or MOMM. Their live program, "Tell All Souls," had developed into a powerful tool, taking the heart of the Mercy message emanating from the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Mass., to local parishes and schools.

Father Seraphim Michalenko, MIC, the vice-postulator in North America for St. Faustina's canonization cause, says MOMM's program brings people "into the very mystical center of Saint Faustina's mission."

Dave pulls the RV into a parking lot. They've arrived at the printing shop. They pick up a few boxes of flyers, then, Joan runs into a nearby pharmacy to get some essentials.

"Joan is a bright, shining star for Jesus," says Dave, as he pulls the RV around to meet her at the door, "and I'm just so grateful to the Lord for letting me be with her during my time here on earth."

He pulls out onto the road again. The odometer keeps turning.

Talk about a compatibility test: Dave and Joan have traveled 250,000 miles together spreading the message of Divine Mercy. That's the distance from the earth to the moon. Dave and Joan will go to any distance. The moon is nothing when you have heaven in your sights.

Read part 3.

Schedule a MOMM program in your area by calling 830-634-7765.

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