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Receiving the relic are Divine Mercy of New Jersey's director, Daisy M. Duarte-Munoz Ricciardi and Deputy Director Anna Tracz. Also in attendance was Deacon Vincent P. Ricciardi, Sr, events and healing ministry coordinator; and Elzbieta Wszedyrowna, religious education instructor.
A Special Gift Finds a Good Home
The Congregation of Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception is not a dispenser of St. Faustina relics. However, Fr. Seraphim Michalenko, MIC, happened to have an extra 2nd-class relic that he wished to go to a good "home."
The relic is now at home with a group of Marian Helpers from New Jersey that has worked to spread the message of The Divine Mercy through word and deed. Board members from the group, Divine Mercy Healing Ministry of New Jersey, traveled to the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Mass., on Saturday, Nov. 5. There, the Very Rev. Fr. Kazimierz Chwalek, MIC, provincial superior of Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy Province, presented the relic to the group.
Formed 11 years ago, Divine Mercy Healing Ministry of New Jersey has as its goal to promote the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy and to support the priests and brothers of the Marians, a congregation that has been official promoters of the message of The Divine Mercy since 1941.
In their own words, this is how Divine Mercy Healing Ministry of New Jersey got its start:
On May 1, 2000, Vincent P. Ricciardi, Sr., then a diaconate candidate in formation, was asked to conduct a Divine Mercy Sunday service by Hilda De Lucia and Joseph Tarala with the approval of Fr. Bernie Keigher, pastor of St. John's Church, Lakehurst, N.J. No one had any idea that we had just formed the Divine Mercy Healing Ministry of New Jersey.
Divine Mercy of New Jersey began to grow slowly as we traveled from parish to parish. The Chaplet of The Divine Mercy and the laying on of hands were bringing so much comfort to those in attendance. We started out with just three people praying the chaplet, and that turned into 13, and then the numbers began to explode — 35, 90, 140, 185, 235, and more were coming. We knew that Jesus had a special mission for us with Divine Mercy of New Jersey.
Deacon Vince Ricciardi, the first director, formed what is known today as Divine Mercy of New Jersey and Divine Mercy Healing Ministry of New Jersey. For the past 11 years, Deacon Vince led us all over the United States, as well as Canada, the Caribbean, Mexico, and Europe, laying hands on those in need of prayer.
Many of us have spent much time at children's hospitals in New York and Pennsylvania as we followed Deacon Vince visiting children with cancer, the sick and the dying.
Working with the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy has been another highlight for us. At Christmas time we ask churches to place tags on their Giving Tree for the needs of the Marian priests, brothers, and seminarians, as well as the Oblate Sisters of The Holy Eucharist (who live on Eden Hill, home of the National Shrine). Delivering the gifts has been a pleasure for Deacon Vince as he makes the four-hour trip to Stockbridge and four-hour trip back to Manchester, N.J. (504 miles total).
Divine Mercy Sunday at the National Shrine has also been very important for Divine Mercy of New Jersey, as we deliver food that is donated to cover the entire weekend. Deacon Vince begins three days before their trip to Stockbridge. Stopping at E & S Foods, Inc., Anthony & Sons Bakery for all the bread needs to feed the thousands of pilgrims.
Next stop, Entenmanns Bakery for cake, donuts, anything sweet that is on the list; then Vitamia Pasta (you have to have the best fresh pasta in the Tri-State area!). We cannot forget our Polish priests, so we pick up the kielbasa and babka. Hard work, but we enjoy doing what we can for the Shrine.
This past Divine Mercy Sunday (2011) brought tears of joy to Deacon Vince's eyes as he watched the Polish children begin the procession carrying the Polish national flag and flowers for Mass. The newly formed Maki, US of Manchester Township, N.J., performed all weekend as they experienced the National Shrine and the wonderful volunteers who fell in love with all 68 children. Maki, US has become a very important extension of Divine Mercy of New Jersey, as Deacon Vince is their spiritual director.
This year Deacon Vince was honored by attending the Second World Apostolic Congress on Mercy, in Krakow, Poland, along with thousands of delegates from around the world. Deacon Vince talked of meeting, then walking and talking with Cardinal Christophe Schönborn and receiving a blessing from Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz. To be surrounded by so many holy men and women was an honor.
Here we are, 11 years later, given the honor of receiving the relic of St. Faustina, the Lord's "Secretary of Divine Mercy."
The relic will be used for the first time on Dec. 9, at a Christmas celebration to be held at La Bove Grand, Lakehurst, N.J., which is open to anyone who would like to celebrate the past year serving Christ Jesus always remembering, "Jesus, I Trust In You"!