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Photo: Felix Carroll

Brother Michael Opalacz, MIC (left), and Fr. Michael Callea, MIC, take a look at the latest work on the Mother of Mercy Outdoor Shrine.

A Dream Takes Form on Eden Hill

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From the soft snow of a Berkshire winter, a hard challenge is being fulfilled on Eden Hill.

Steel beams are cropping up out of the earth. The beams — the skeletal framework of the new Mother of Mercy Outdoor Shrine — stand as a sign of the Marians' commitment to spreading the message of Divine Mercy and of the Marian Helpers' dedication to assist the Marians in fulfilling this mission of mercy.

Realizing the dream
"Every morning, I go downstairs and look out the window and pray to Our Blessed Mother for her intercession that this project gets completed," says Br. Donald Schaefer, MIC, Treasurer of the Marians' Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy Province, based on Eden Hill in Stockbridge, Mass.

"She's helped us get this far," Br. Donald says, pointing out his office window to the south lawn of the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy, where the new outdoor shrine is taking shape.

It was only last April, on Divine Mercy Sunday, when Shrine Rector Fr. Anthony Gramlich, MIC, posed a challenge during the live broadcast on EWTN. While rain, sleet, and high winds threatened the annual outdoor celebration of the liturgy on Eden Hill, Fr. Anthony pleaded for financial help to replace the 18-year-old field altar with a larger outdoor shrine that would provide better protection from the elements for the celebrant, concelebrants, servers, choirs, and others.

And help began to arrive. So much so that construction began in September and has continued through the snowfall of early winter. With the generous gifts of Marian Helpers around the world, more than $775,000 of the $1.3-million project has been raised, including a contribution of $250,000 by the construction company and suppliers involved when the construction is completed.

The Marians expect the new structure will be "usable" for Divine Mercy Sunday on March 30. "It will not be totally complete," says Br. Donald, "but it will serve as a proper shelter for a respectful celebration of the liturgy."

Meeting the need
The outdoor shrine will not only provide for the needs of the annual Divine Mercy Sunday celebration, which typically draws between 10,000 and 20,000 pilgrims, it will also be used throughout the year during special ethnic days or feast days that draw more pilgrims than the National Shrine can accommodate. The National Shrine, dedicated in 1960, can only accommodate 185 people.

As designed, the outdoor shrine will provide the Marians with two options when dealing with large crowds. Since it will seat more than twice as many pilgrims as the National Shrine, on some occasions Holy Mass will be celebrated within the outdoor shine, with pilgrims being invited to sit within one of its two wings. And for even larger celebrations, such as Divine Mercy Sunday or the annual Encuentro Latino day in August, the glass doors that line the front of the outdoor shrine could be opened and the altar moved forward to provide good visibility for congregants who will be invited to take seats on the lawn.

First and foremost, the outdoor shrine will meet the needs for Divine Mercy Sunday, which Pope John Paul II established as a universal feast day in 2000 when he canonized St. Faustina.

"In Jesus' revelations to St. Faustina, He asked on numerous occasions that a feast day be dedicated to The Divine Mercy and that this feast be celebrated on the Sunday after Easter," says Br. Donald. "With the Mother of Mercy Outdoor Shrine, we believe we will be able to honor more reverentially our Lord's request and the Church's recognition of the day.

"Moreover," he said, "this outdoor shrine will serve as a visible bond between the Marians and the many thousands of pilgrims who come here seeking comfort in God and who seek the Marians' help in drawing closer to Christ and Our Lady."

Indeed, without Marian Helpers, this project could not be completed.

Following Divine Mercy Sunday, a great deal of work will remain on the outdoor shrine, says Br. Donald. "In order to continue the construction, we rely on the generosity of donors to give whatever they can," he said.

Ways to help
Please consider helping the Marians complete the Mother of Mercy Outdoor Shrine by sending a financial gift.

As a way of celebrating the project, we are giving away a wonderful trip for two to one lucky winner.

With your financial help and prayers, the Mother of Mercy Outdoor Shrine will live up to its namesake. It is Our Mother of Mercy, after all, who shelters us in our need and who leads us to her Son, our merciful Savior.

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MARK MARY TARBO - Jan 26, 2008

faith is a gift frm GOD,i've been an ardent devotioner to our mother MARY, and for 12yrs a divine mercy devotee.to those seeking for true peace and miracles,no arena wil provide same except GOD'S unfathomable mercy.HE HAS NEVER FAILED ME.JESUS TOLD ST FAUSTINA THREE THINGS ARE NEEEDED IN A SOUL FOR HIM TO DWEEL IN,PATIENCE,SILENCE AND PRAYER.BUT THE GREATEST IS PATIENCE.WE LIVE IN CRITICAL TIMES WHEN THE SPEED OF MAN'S EGO AND QUEST TO EXCEL INTERFERS WITH THE DIVINE WILL.GOD CREATED THE WORLD IN SEVEN DAYS,THE ISRAELITES SOJOURNED FOR 40YRS IN THE DESERT.SLOWLY AND STEADILY HE TUTORS US TO GROW IN UNCONTAMINATED FAITH.NOTHING DETERS HIM FROM CREATING THE EARTH IN THE SPLIT OF A SECOND,OR MOVE THE ISRAELITES SWIFTLY WITH THE FORCE OF A WIND.FAITH THEREFORE IS TRUST,BUT YOU MUST BE TESTED TO BE TRUSTED EVEN WITH LITTLE THINGS.DONT TRUSTED GOD WITH YOUR LIPS.WE FIND GOD IN THE STORM,WHERE HE MANIFEST HIS POWERS.LEST YOU THINK HE IS A PUPPET.

M.O, Feb 20, 2008 - Feb 20, 2008

This happened most probably in 1994. While I was doing the 9 day novena of D. Mercy before Mercy Sunday moving the image from house to house - during that 9 days, I told one of my friends who was with me, I wish an image be donated so we can move it from one house to another (to spread the devotion, other than myself). After the 9th day novena, my friend, immediately came to me and said that she and her husband will donate the image and be the coordinators. I was so surprised but I consented. Up to now they have been moving the image of the D. Mercy & Mama Mary. Many things happened in their life since that time on, i.e. they were disapproved to buy a house 3X. I said, serve the D. Mercy and you will get your wish. So while serving the D. Mercy, AFTER A MONTH, she became permanent in her job and a few days later, they were pre-approved with their mortgage and was able to buy a house. Also, later in their life, her greatest wish was for her son to be able to finish his studies. This happened too, his son was able to finish 2 degrees. It is our faith that make us whole. Up to now, the husband and wife are still moving the D. Mercy & Mama Mary.

Lucy Hernandez - Feb 24, 2008

My husband an dI had been waiting to get him his legal residence in The u.s. fro so many years, there were some issues that many people told us it might be denied. I am a dovotee of the DIVINE MERCY CHAPLET. i have been praying it for months. The feared intwerview was less than 4 minutes only 4 questiosn and a couple of docuements. Everytine Ui felt anxious I just remembered to trust Jesus.

Mary E - Apr 21, 2008

We were drawn into the Church in 2000 in part by reading the Diary of Faustina and every time we would remark that the simple yet profound things found in the Diary we had heard those same things in our then Protestant Evangelical church. We could relate to the directness and also the way St Faustina would engage in conversational prayer and not always rote prayers when petitioning Our Lord. Many "seeds" for our conversion were planted through our reading th Diary.
We then had a Mass at our local parish in which our family of 3 was recieved into full communion with the Church - it was beautful. My husband and I were privilegded that same weekend to come to Stockbridge and have our "second" Holy Communion in the Chapel on Eden Hill...I still remember the tears of joy that came over me as I had felt that "once would have been enough" to recieve such a wondrous Sacrament and yet our generous Saviour had provided this as a DAILY offering - it amazed me as I went forward to receive as He beckoned me as His daughter to do...
I became sick with cancer a year later in 2001 and came to rely most heavily on the Divine Mercy and it's promises that it contains. I clung some days "white knuckled" to the Sacraments and sometimes could not believe that I went from entering in with a First Communion to now recieving Sacraments of the Sick!!!
I have made a recovery - thanks be ever to Our God and I place myself into His hands and Will each and every day. I give Him Glory for all he has done and is doing in my life.
More recently in 2004 and 2007 I lost my parents and my father-in-law - 2 of them to cancer. 2 were longstanding Evangelical Protestant and the other fallen away as a Catholic. During the rapid decline in their conditions we never stopped pleading on the Divine Mercy for intercession - and ALL 3 turned to our parish priest and concented to recieving Last Rites in the Sacraments of the Sick! And the one fallend away Catholic - my father-in-law even went into full confession and was able to recieve the Eucharist several times before his death - He had a first class relic of St Faustina brought to his bedside along with that of Padre Pio. And he had so many Priests that came to see him we lost count! The staff in the nursing home thought he must be an important benefactor of the Catholic Church - when little did they realize he was a modern day - "thief on the cross"!!!!
Thanks be to God for all He has done and is doing!
We rejoice greatly in the grace, mercy, healing of mind, body and soul and miracles that the Divine Mercy has wrought in and through our lives during this journey of faith we take as pilgrims of the Divine Mercy...
Blessings Be Yours!