Celebrating Divine Mercy Sunday in your Parish, Guidebook

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By Dan Valenti (Apr 1, 2009)
Mike and Mary Baccoli define the term "committed Catholic." They are not only regular communicants at St. Mary's Parish in Lee, Mass., but they work hard to enhance the spiritual life of their faith community.

Mike is a lector and Eucharistic minister, while Mary — formerly a long-time member of the choir at St. Mary's — helps in the cafeteria of the parish school. Both halves of this committed couple are part of the Eucharistic Adoration team, taking the less-than-popular 1 a.m. to 2 a.m. shift, plus often (and without hesitation) covering for those who can't make their hour.

Their outreach involves more than the parish. They often volunteer at community events, and they do more than their share of corporal works of mercy. For instance, if a friend is sick, Mary won't hesitate to make her famous "everything" soup and deliver it. If a neighbor needs help weeding a garden because he's hobbled with an inflamed sciatica nerve, Mike, a knowledgeable gardener, is there for the chore.

So where do you think you can find Mike and Mary Baccoli on Divine Mercy Sunday? That's right, volunteering on Eden Hill in Stockbridge at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy. For Mike, the job can range from ushering at the outdoor Mass to helping with crowd control. For Mary, it can be waiting on people in the gift tent, helping to light memorial candles, or dishing out food in the cafeteria.

The Baccolis do it because, for them, faith isn't a stale set of beliefs but an active part of life.

"I feel that God brings us to our faith not as an end in itself but because He wants to use our talents and gifts to help others," Mike says. "For instance, I've always enjoyed meeting people, and I can use that skill to convey the Word of God as a lector at Mass." Mike knows what he's talking about. He is recently retired from a long career in the supermarket industry, and for many years he ran delicatessens at various markets in Massachusetts' Berkshire County.

"To service people well, you have to listen to them," Mike says. "You must want to be with them and want to help them. That's true if you're helping them pick out the right side dishes for a picnic, and even more so when you're trying to help them spiritually. I feel that close connection with God and with people when I volunteer for the Marians on Divine Mercy Sunday."

Mary says she came to realize the value of service from her mother, Esther Contenta of Pittsfield, Mass., who came to this country from Italy along with her husband determined to build a better life. Esther was an active member of Mt. Carmel Parish, and her service to the Church rubbed off on Mary.

"My mother would never refuse someone who needed help," Mary says, "even when she was having struggles of her own. I try to carry that way of life with me, and, certainly, when I can help out on Divine Mercy Weekend, I feel that I'm being true to the giving spirit."

Asked what they feel is the most rewarding part of volunteering on Eden Hill, they agree it's the spiritual benefits.

"[Eden Hill] is a special place, and no more so than on Divine Mercy Sunday," says Mike. "To be there on that day, with all those people who come from all over the country and the world to honor God — well, I find that uplifting and rewarding."

Mary agrees: "It's a long day, and it's hard for us (they are both in their 70s), but at the end of the day, there's no feeling like it. I feel blessed with grace."

How about you? Are you interested in volunteering on Divine Mercy Sunday at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy? Find out how by contacting Carol Scott Mahoney at 413-298-1117 or by e-mail at cmahoney@marian.org.

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Michelin L. - Apr 13, 2009

I knew Mary and Mike when we lived in MA.(we live in KS now.) and they were always such faith filled people. We have 9 children and Mary was always so supportive and encouraging to us. They are a beautiful example of God's love and it was so nice to read your story on them.

Maria P.(Can) - Mar 31, 2009

God bless you Mike and Mary. May God continue to give you strength and perseverance. I admire couples like you. What pleases God the most, is doing His will. His will is what you are doing(life-giving)which gives glory to God in the Highest. May He reward you and your family.