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Photo: Aaron Joseph
Archbishop Henry J. Mansel was the main celebrant of the Mass on Aug. 26.
On a Marian Feast Day, a Special Visit
By Chris Sparks (Aug 28, 2013)
The Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception welcomed a bumper crowd of pilgrims on Monday. Archbishop Henry J. Mansell, the local ordinary for the Archdiocese of Hartford, Conn., led an 80-person Year of Faith pilgrimage to the National Shrine of the Divine Mercy on Aug. 26, the feast day of Our Lady of Czestochowa.
Also known as the Black Madonna of the Monastery of Jasna Góra, this title of the Blessed Virgin Mary stems from an image of her reportedly painted by St. Luke on a wooden tabletop built by a certain famous carpenter — Jesus Christ. According to legend, Mary shared her memories of Jesus's life while the Gospel writer was painting the image. After a long and tumultuous existence with many miracles associated with it along the way, in the 1300s the image came to reside in a Pauline monastery called Jasna Góra (or "Mount of Light") near the town of Czestochowa.
Archbishop Mansell was the main celebrant at Mass in the Shrine, delivering a homily to a standing room-only crowd on the importance of developing a personal relationship with God in communion with the whole Church during this Year of Faith.
"The idea of the pilgrimages in the Year of Faith is to provide the people of the Archdiocese with spiritual opportunities to be enriched in their faith and to strengthen their relationship with the Lord," explained Archbishop Mansell. "Our first Year of Faith pilgrimage was to Rome, Assisi, Florence, and Venice. It proved to be a very spiritual time for all participants."
Concelebrating with the archbishop were a number of priests from the Archdiocese of Hartford and the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception, including Fr. Kaz, Chwalek, MIC, provincial superior of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy Province of the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception.
During the Mass, the Archbishop paid tribute to the beautiful Shrine and the many graces available to pilgrims who visit. He recalled for his fellow pilgrims the life and work of the Polish mystic St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, the secretary of Divine Mercy, whom Jesus commissioned to "tell the whole world about My inconceivable mercy" (Diary of St. Faustina, 699).
Incidentally, in the 1930s, St. Faustina herself visited Czestochowa to pray before the great miraculous icon of Our Lady. After the visit, she wrote in her Diary, "The Mother of God told me many things. I entrusted my perpetual vows to her. I felt that I was her child and she was my Mother" (260).
Archbishop Mansell celebrated the many great gifts Polish Catholicism has given to the Catholic Church throughout the world during the past century. Those gifts include St. Faustina and the message of Divine Mercy, as well as the life and ministry of Bl. Pope John Paul II, the Martyr of Charity St. Maximilian Kolbe, and a tenacious Catholic faith that has endured and outlasted invasions from many foes, Swedes to Saracens, and faced down Communism, ever trusting in the patronage and protection of Our Lady of Czestochowa.
"The Polish people kept their heart," said the Archbishop. "People who know the Polish people know they are Catholics."