Photo: John Foster
A New Statue Draws a Crowd
By John Foster (Oct 31, 2011)
The National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Mass., celebrated St. Faustina's feast day on Oct. 5, with a talk, Holy Mass and a special blessing of a new life-size statue of the great saint known as the "secretary of Divine Mercy."
Several busses and many cars brought an estimated 250 pilgrims to Eden Hill to celebrate the life of the millennium's first saint. Father Robert Vennetti, MIC, gave a talk on the life and the spiritual impact of St. Faustina.
It was a beautiful, sunny autumn day. Leaves on the trees in the Berkshire hills were turning vivid shades of yellow and red. Pilgrims dressed in colorful sweatshirts and light jackets to protect themselves from a northwest breeze. A number of priests were available to hear confessions.
Father Vennetti celebrated Mass in the Mother of Mercy Outdoor Shrine on the south-facing hillside behind the National Shrine. Mass was followed by the Divine Mercy Chaplet and Novena and Benediction.
The assembled congregation then walked in procession up the hill to the front of the National Shrine where Fr. Vennetti blessed a life-size statue of St. Faustina. The statue depicts a kneeling Faustina facing the National Shrine, with her hands outstretched, reaching for our Lord when He appeared to her and asked her to paint His image with the signature "Jesus I trust in You" (see Diary of St. Faustina, 47).
The statue is a gift from a generous Marian Helper, Jean Wilczynski, and was made in memory of her beloved deceased husband, Ted.
Faustina in Everyday Life, Up Close and Personal
And on a still smaller and much more personal note, not far from Eden Hill, on Oct.12, at Sacred Heart Church in Pittsfield, Mass, a group of 39 high school seniors made their confirmation. Among them, Brianne Capeless, who chose as her saint name – Faustina. Her grandmother, Elizabeth Foster, was her sponsor.
When asked why she chose Faustina, Brianne didn't hesitate. "My grandmother has given me several books on St. Faustina, and I have read them all. Faustina just seems to be a saint for our times."
The Most Rev. Timothy A. McDonnell, Bishop of Springfield, was Celebrant and homilist. Fittingly, the Bishop, spoke of the two great commandments of God — love of God and love of neighbor.
"The best way to serve the Lord is by performing acts of kindness for our family, neighbors, and peers," he said.