Photo: Mark Fanders

Mercy for Souls

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By Andy Leeco (Oct 2, 2012)
Brenda Bernier and Lissie De Jesus traveled from Texas to honor their late sister. They were among the estimated 100 people in attendance at the Mercy for Souls Conference on Sunday, Sept. 16, at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy on Eden Hill in Stockbridge, Mass.

"We lost our sister last year," Brenda said. "We found out about the conference for the Holy Souls and that Fr. Dan [Cambra, MIC] would be offering Mass for the names from our family tree. We thought that would be a nice way to celebrate the life of our sister, Magda Ortiz."

The second annual Mercy for Souls Conference was hosted by the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception. Father Dan was the principal celebrant and homilist for Holy Mass. He also gave a talk titled "Blessed Stanislaus Papczynski, a Model for Mercy for the Holy Souls."

The Marian Fathers had requested that conference attendees bring a copy of their family trees and that Sunday's Mass would be offered specifically for those family trees individuals. The Marians also took up a collection of any family trees that haven't already been submitted.

"With each beat of our hearts, we should offer a prayer to Christ for our family tree," Fr. Dan said. "For those unknown to us and those known to us, for those who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith, and for those whom we don't know who aren't even part of our immediate family who nevertheless are part of the family of humanity. With each breath we take, we commend those souls into the care of Jesus. With each blink of our eyes, we ask Him to look upon them with mercy. With every touch of our hand, we ask Christ to reach out to those souls and draw them to His Sacred Heart. Come to me all you who are weak and find life burdensome, and I will refresh you. What souls are in greater need of refreshment than those souls that have suffered a time in purgatory of unnecessary length because no one thought to pray for them. "

The two couples — Brenda and her husband Roberto traveled from Dallas, while Lissie came with her husband Ferdinand from Houston — said they felt the spirit of the Holy Family while they were at the Mother of Mercy Outdoor Shrine. They also felt comforted by Fr. Dan's homily and talk.

"Father Dan talked about waking up at 3 a.m. by knocking and voices," Roberto said. "I have been waking up at 3 a.m. for the last eight months, since Magda died, and I have tried to figure out why. Now I know. It's very comforting to know that it's Magda asking us to pray for her."

The Berniers and De Jesuses were not the only families that found something meaningful from Fr. Dan's homily and talk.

The Hallare family — Jose, Digna, Joy and Diana — connected with what Fr. Dan said about "God incidents."

Father Dan told a story of a family of eight who had fallen into the lake and were drowning because none of them knew how to swim, but at that moment, another family, who are all strong swimmers, happened to be hiking by the lake and jumped in to save them.

"I say, 'Well, wasn't that another God incident?' because once again that family that was just hiking was hiking at that place at that time possibly at the prompting of their guardian angels." Father Dan explained, "Those little incidents that happen are of extraordinary benefit and very often are the result of activity of the souls suffering in Purgatory; of souls that are urging us not to fall off the straight and narrow, so to speak."

The Hallares, from Fresno, Calif., said their whole reason for being at the Shrine for the conference was not just a coincidence, but a "God incident."

"We had always wanted to travel to see the Shrine," Diana Hallare said. "We had talked about it for a long time, but we just kept putting it off for some reason. Then, one day, I just grabbed a calendar and pointed to a date. It was Sept. 16 of this year. Then we found out that it was going to be the day of the conference, and we knew we were guided to be here on this day. We have a deep devotion to the Holy Souls and also were excited to have the first-class relics of St. Faustina, Blessed John Paul II, Blessed Stanislaus, and Blessed [Michael] Sopocko all there to bless us."

Diana also said another exciting aspect of the trip was the chance to walk the Way of the Cross at the new life-size Stations of the Cross.

"We were excited to see the beautiful statues and for the chance to meditate about life and the Holy Souls," Diana said. "We had seen the Shrine in the Philippines, but we were really excited to come to and say the Chaplet of Divine Mercy here."

For those who want to know more about the Marian Fathers' devotion to the Holy Souls and their Holy Souls Sodality, visit

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