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Photo: Courtesy of Kathy Hrechka

Seen here are some of the members of the EADM Divine Mercy prayer cenacle at St. Louis Church in Alexandria, Va. They are pictured after Divine Mercy Sunday services. The group began in 2004 and it's growing, says member Kathy Hrechka.

By Word and Deed

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By Dan Valenti (Apr 30, 2012)
The Eucharistic Apostles of The Divine Mercy prayer cenacles have played a key role in the spread of Divine Mercy, helping it to become what Fr. Seraphim Michalenko, MIC, calls "the greatest grassroots movement in the history of the Church."

EADM cenacles consist of small groups of people who gather in their local communities for prayer, song, reflection, discussion, camaraderie, and to perform works of mercy. One such group is the EADM cenacle of St. Louis Parish in Alexandria, Va. The group has been meeting since 2004.

"We have completed all three manuals," says Kathy Hrechka, referring to EADM companion guides that lead cenacle members through the texts used for discussion: Scripture, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and the Diary of St. Faustina. "We are starting from book one again, since we are gaining new members. We can never get enough of God's messages through the Bible, the Catechism, and The Diary."

A Door Closes so a Window Might Open
Kathy says the cenacle had its origins in 2004, when — because of a move to another state by the hosts of a Marian Movement of Priests prayer group — St. Louis Parish found itself without a cenacle.

"We loved our prayer time together and wished to continue to meet for prayer and fellowship," she says. Clare Favela, one of the members, suggested starting a Divine Mercy cenacle. "Clare investigated, we invited some friends, and we ordered the formation manuals from the Marian Fathers." It was a classic case of one door closing so that a window might open to present a new opportunity.

The pastor of St. Stephen's Church allowed the nascent group to meet in Walsh Hall at the parish. At first, the new cenacle consisted of a handful of women from St. Louis and Good Shepherd churches in Alexandria. Over the years, the group has remained consistent with between nine and 14 members. Jim Ramirez is the lone male member, Kathy says, adding with a smile, "He does not mind all the women. As a matter of fact, he seems to enjoy it."

She says the Arlington Herald, the diocesan weekly newspaper, "has been kind enough to include announcements of our meetings. As a result, individuals from other churches have joined the group. We are into our eighth year, and we see nothing but growth ahead."

Work of Mercy, Works of Praise
Speaking of growth, the St. Louis cenacle has spawned an offshoot. Lynn Dalton, one of the St. Louis members, started another cenacle, this at St. Mary's Church, also in Alexandria. Kathy says Claire, the founding member at St. Louis, has since moved to New Mexico, but "she manages to get back yearly to visit with her family. That trip always includes visits with the cenacle, which she calls her 'spiritual family.'"

Kathy says action forms a major part of the group's activity: "Our major work of mercy has been to prepare and serve lunch to our area homeless at the Elks [Club in Alexandria]. We serve once a month on the first Wednesday of each month. The menu consists of spaghetti and meatballs, plus a salad. Our group purchases the food, does the preparation, serves, and cleans up."

The St. Louis cenacle also observes Divine Mercy Sunday. Kathy says the group has been promoting the great day of mercy since the beginning.

"The service begins with the Blessed Sacrament exposed," Kathy says," during which time the Sacrament of Confession is made available to all. Our priest presents a brief history of St. Faustina followed by cenacle members reading entries from her Diary. At 3 p.m., our children's choir, dressed in red robes, leads in singing the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy."

Kathy's report on the St. Louis cenacle echoes similar testimonies of such groups through the country and the world. If you are interested in starting a Divine Mercy prayer cenacle, contact EADM at 1-877-380-0727 or send an e-mail to eadm@marian.org.

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Bryan Thatcher MD - May 4, 2012

The seeds planted several years ago are now bearing great fruit. God bless to all! Bryan Thatcher MD