Photo: Br. Jim McCormack, MIC
The billboards include the toll-free phone number of the Marian's Divine Mercy Intercessory Prayer Ministry.
Why a Billboard?
'I Wanted the Whole World to Hear About Jesus's Mercy!'
By Christi Derr
Jesus, I trust in you. I thank Our Merciful Savior for giving me the opportunity to spread the message of Divine Mercy through a billboard in Denver, Colo.
When I first heard about the Divine Mercy message given to St. Faustina, I fell "in love." It is a message of so much hope! No matter where you are in your spiritual life — the greatest sinner or the holiest saint — you need the mercy of God. The message is so simple, and so very profound. It is the essence of the Gospel and the Sacraments. I wanted the whole world to hear about Jesus's mercy! I especially wanted people who would never even think of attending a mission — or go to Mass, for that matter — to hear this message. The promise Jesus attaches to the veneration of the image didn't hurt for inspiration either!
It was precisely at this time that God answered my silent prayer. I happened to read the article in the Spring 2006 issue of Marian Helper magazine about the Divine Mercy billboards put up by Joe Cannon, who lives in Cleveland, Ohio. I was so inspired by his story! I remember thinking to myself, "That's it! I can do that!" Jesus kept me blissfully ignorant of any potential difficulties in the project until I was already sold on the idea!
God, of course, does not need our help with anything. He only allows us to participate in His works because He is so kind! I am reminded of a mother who allows her children to help her make cookies. She can make the treats on her own more efficiently, better and make less of a mess. She loves her children, though, and lets them help. She even, in a way, makes them indispensable to the preparation. I say this because all I did is say "yes" and our Lord sent me every conceivable sort of help for this work — so much so that it is almost ridiculous to say that I did anything at all!
Amazingly, the entire concept, design, contract with the ad agency, and payment was all accomplished within seven days! I was in Adoration on the feast day of St. Joseph and was thinking about if it would really be possible to put up a billboard and what it might look like. Saint Joseph was very involved in this effort and has a sense of humor. Before I knew Joe Cannon's story, I had asked for a "sign" from St. Joseph in answer to the Novena. Guess how he answered? The Divine Mercy sign was designed, paid for and in production by the Feast of the Annunciation.
Before Adoration, I had called the billboard agency Lamar Outdoor Advertising. I was put in contact with an advertising representative, Josh Pauletic. He nearly laughed at what I thought the price of the billboard would be. He said though, that since the billboard was for a non-profit organization, Lamar could possibly offer me a better price than the unaffordable commercial rate. After Adoration, I called the office again and was told that an incredible price was approved — $2,000 for production and space. There were some conditions, however. The cost would cover one month only, would not be the best location, and could be "yanked" at anytime if a full-paying customer wanted the space our "ad" was occupying.
Lamar Advertising is a real hero in this story. The outdoor advertising company quickly abandoned the very conditions I had agreed to for the better price. I had agreed to an average location but our ad rep, Josh, kept moving the Divine Mercy image until it was placed at a location that 49,000 motorists pass daily!
There is no way we could have afforded that spot. This year they again gave us an awesome location, again at no (earthly) benefit to them. Josh even left the board up this year for close to two months, with no extra charge. What other explanation is there for this generosity but the people at Lamar's good will and our Lord's Providence!
After the contract was signed there was the problem of raising the money. My husband liked the billboard concept but was not crazy about the thought of being "stuck with the bill." Jesus is amazing and answered with lightning speed! I am blessed to have as friends a wonderful group of women with hearts for our Lord and the desire to make Him loved! These women belong to various prayer groups, home-schooling groups, know men in the Knights of Columbus, or just know a lot of people. They covered Boulder and Albuquerque, N.M., in no time with news of the plan and the need for funds.
Miraculously, we collected the money in one week! Most of the contributors donated somewhere between $25-$50. We had the additional joy, then, of many people joining together to make our Lord's mercy known!
God is good, and the miracles continued this year! Not only were we able to put up the Divine Mercy billboard again in Denver, as I mentioned, but my sister in Albuquerque and her friends put up 11 smaller Divine Mercy billboards around their city.
I thank and praise our Merciful Savior for allowing me to participate in this work of evangelization!
Christi Derr is a homemaker and a mother of five. She lives in Boulder, Colo.