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Photo: Fr. Brendan McCarron, SPS
St. Faustina's Church!
New Parish in Zambia, Africa Adopts Divine Mercy 'Secretary' at Patron
Father Brendan McCarron (center), with catechist Daka and Fr. Alfred Phiri (PP Roma Parish) on the plot where the church is being built.
By Dan Valenti (May 16, 2012)
In the spiritually inevitable progression from Sr. Faustina, to Blessed Faustina, to St. Faustina, it was only a matter of time before parishes around the world would seek the saint's name as its own.
This wonderful event in the history of St. Faustina's message as Jesus' "secretary" of Divine Mercy is happening in Lusaka, Zambia, with the construction of a church for the new St. Faustina's Parish.
A Slow Start and a God-sent Visit
When Fr. Brendan McCarron of the St. Patrick Fathers, a missionary order based in Ireland and in the United States in Cliffside Park, N.J., was sent back to Zambia in 2007, the archbishop there had just retired and no successor appointed.
In the April 2012 edition of Africa, the monthly magazine of the St. Patrick Fathers, Fr. Brendan writes of the need for the new church.
"On the ground,"he writes,"there was no great enthusiasm for this new parish. The area was part of Roma Parish, where the [St. Patrick Fathers] had begun its mission to Zambia in 1973. This had been an illegal compound that was later legalized. A huge shanty complex had developed."
Father Brendan writes how he began working in the area, looking for a suitable site for the building of a new church.
"We had a grass shelter made and held some meeting and services there," he says. "Very slowly, two or three of what were the communities attached to Roma Parish began to show some interest. We started Sunday Mass and established a catechumenate. Nonetheless, there seemed to be great reluctance to become part of a new parish. There was much prestige attached to belonging to Roma, which was formerly the Cathedral Parish. People had to travel long distances to Mass, but they seemed happy to leave things as they were."
Father Brendan almost gave up, until he received a serendipitous visit.
Fr. Brendan's Leap of Faith Pays Off
A man named Ellings Moyo, who was the leader of one of the Roma parish groups, encouraged Fr. Brendan to persist, assuring him there was a need for a new parish. Mr. Moyo had come at the right time, offering support and guidance.
"On his advice, I continued what proved to be a great struggle," Fr. Brendan says. "With the money I had, I bought a plot of land for approximately $2,000 (U.S.). We began work on building a church. The rainy season played havoc with our temporary structures, and a proper church was badly needed."
With this leap of faith and little else, Fr. Brendan writes of how he put the matter of church building in God's hands, in total trust. That action changed everything. Soon after, money and support began to trickle in. He received financial help from his congregation's "small churches fund," and he used it to erect a steel frame and roof of what was to become St. Faustina Church.
"At last, we were getting somewhere."
There was, of course, much more to be done, and the project needed more funding. Lots of prayer later, the Vatican's Society for the Propagation of the Faith gave two sizeable donations. Then, the parish of St. Joseph in Stonehouse, England, having heard about the building of the church, gave money to install a slab foundation. Other friends and family sent in donations to Fr. Brendan. Then, Divine Mercy entered the picture.
Enter The Divine Mercy
Doctor Peter and Victoria Wysneski, Polish friends of Fr. Brendan, who had a great devotion to The Divine Mercy and St. Faustina, owners of a marble mine, donated marble for the floor of the church, the altar, and the lectern. They also brought with them their zeal for the new saint.
"Saint Faustina was chosen as patron because a great many of those who were coming to church of who gave donations had already had a great devotion to The Divine Mercy," Fr. Brendan writes. "They were aware that St. Faustina was chosen by our Lord to introduce the time of mercy to the world. On Divine Mercy Sunday, 2007, one week after Easter, with just a frame and roof over us, St. Faustina's was officially recognized as a parish by Archbishop Telesphore Mpundu. There was great rejoicing."
The Charles Borromeo sisters brought the new church a first-class relic of St. Faustina, says Fr. Brendan. "It was securely attached to the front of the altar and is visible to all. After Communion after every Mass, we pray:
Jesus, may your pure and precious blood circulate in my poor, ailing organism. May your pure and healthy body strengthen my weak, unhealthy body and mind, and may your pure and vigorous life flow once again within me, if it is truly Your Holy will. Jesus, I put all my trust in You."
Looking back on the struggle to get this far with the church, with "far more to do," Fr. Brendan says the central prayer of our parish is the prayer Jesus asked St. Faustina to put at the bottom of the picture of The Divine Mercy:
"Jesus, I trust in You.' That is our prayer and our hope, and we know we can do all things in Christ, who strengthens us," he writes
Father Brendan, from Castlederg, County Tyrone, Ireland, was ordained a priest in 1973. He spent 25 years in Zambia, followed by seven years on mission promotion in the United Kingdom before returning to Zambia. For more information on the St. Patrick Fathers, write to them at 70 Edgewater Road, Cliffside Park, NJ 10710. E-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.