The Book That Sparked the Divine Mercy Movement The Diary chronicles God's message given through St. Faustina to the world to turn to His mercy. In it, we are reminded to t... Read more
'Fire of Mercy' for the World!
Organizers Announce Plans for World Apostolic Congress
"On one occasion, I heard these words: My daughter, tell the whole world about My inconceivable mercy."
— Diary of St. Faustina, 699
The Divine Mercy movement will soon be given the prominence that our Lord requested of St. Faustina, the great Apostle of Divine Mercy. With Pope Benedict XVI's blessing, plans are underway to hold a World Apostolic Congress on Mercy in April 2008.
"The idea is to bring to the attention of the faithful worldwide this very important message of Divine Mercy," says Fr. Seraphim Michalenko, MIC, who is a preeminent expert on The Divine Mercy message & devotion and the life of St. Faustina.
The Marians of the Immaculate Conception, who have played a key role in spreading this message and devotion throughout the world, have been asked to help organize and promote the Congress. The Marians plan to make a formal announcement about the plans during the live telecast on EWTN of their Divine Mercy Sunday celebration at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Mass., on April 15.
Plans for the Congress are still in their infancy. But organizers say it will be modeled after the International Eucharistic Congresses, which have been called every few years since 1881. Clergy and the laity in every diocese and every parish around the world will be encouraged to give paramount importance to the spirituality and message and devotion of The Divine Mercy.
"The Congress will concern the whole Church - indeed, the whole world," says Fr. Patrice Chocholski, of Lyon, France, an author and lecturer on Divine Mercy who is helping to organize the Congress.
The Congress will kick off in Rome on April 1-7, 2008. The week will include keynote speakers on biblical, theological, and pastoral themes; testimonies; apostolic workshops; evening festivals in churches; and liturgical celebrations. The Congress will also have a strong ecumenical dimension, and will conclude with an inter-religious meeting on mercy.
The Congress will be open to all bishops, priests, religious, and lay people already committed to or interested in spreading the apostolate of mercy in their diocese.
Father Patrice said that it is the hope of organizers to hold such a Congress every three or four years. In between, he said, the clergy and laity around the world will be encouraged to "live in the light of The Divine Mercy — to be motivated every day of their life by Divine Mercy."
"It's a tremendous opportunity," says Fr. Seraphim, referring to the World Congress. "I remember the 41st International Eucharistic Congress in 1976. In Philadelphia, more than 120,000 people filled John F. Kennedy Stadium for the closing Mass!"
The idea for The Divine Mercy Congress came from an international Divine Mercy retreat hosted by the Missionaries of Mercy in Lagiewniki, Poland, in July 2005 that drew 450 priests and their pastoral councils from many countries, including members of the Marian Congregation.
That retreat was presided over by the Archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Christopher SchÃ¶nborn. It was Cardinal SchÃ¶nborn who approached Pope Benedict with the proposal for a Divine Mercy Congress.
"The Holy Father loves this project," says Fr. Patrice, who is both Secretary General of the Congress and Cardinal SchÃ¶nborn's personal representative in organizing it.
Father Patrice and his assistant, Marie Barbieri, visited the Marians in Stockbridge in January to update them on the plans and to strategize. All agreed that this year's Divine Mercy Sunday celebration will begin a year of spiritual and logistical preparation for the World Congress.
Through the Congress, organizers say they hope to present a message of hope to a troubled world desperately in need of peace — a peace that only comes through trust in God's mercy.
As Providence would have it, the first full day of the Congress will be on April 2, the third anniversary of the death of Pope John Paul II, known as the "Great Mercy Pope." It was John Paul II who entrusted the world to Divine Mercy in 2002, saying, "[The] fire of mercy needs to be passed on to the world. In the mercy of God the world will have peace and mankind will find happiness!"
"In many ways," said Ms. Barbieri, "we are living John Paul II's dream."