Photo: Felix Carroll
Shrine Rector Fr. Dan Malone, MIC, invites you to visit the place mercy calls home.
Come See. Shrine's 'Golden Year' Continues.
By Dan Valenti (Dec 1, 2010)
Celebration of its 50th Anniversary Year, concludes at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy at the end of the month.
Until that time, the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception invite you to make a pilgrimage to the Shrine and receive a special plenary indulgence granted by Pope Benedict XVI.
The Shrine, administered by the Marians, is the spiritual home of the Association of Marian Helpers. The plenary indulgence has been the highlight for the yearlong celebration that extends through Dec. 31.
A Shrine is Built
The original idea for what would become one of the most beautiful shrines in North America began with laity who have assisted the Marian Fathers in their mission to spread devotion to The Divine Mercy and Mary Immaculate. More than 60 years ago, reader after reader of the Marians' Bulletin (now Marian Helper magazine) began contacting the Marians with the suggestion that a shrine should be built specifically in thanksgiving for God's mercy. As it happened, this coincided with an internal need of the Marian community for a larger chapel on Eden Hill in Stockbridge, Mass.
In May 1950, after much prayer and discussion, the superiors of the Marians in Stockbridge decided to build a shrine in thanks for the goodness God had shown them in their mission of spreading God's mercy. The Marians broke ground that month for the new Shrine of The Divine Mercy.
As reported in the Marian archives, that May 5th day dawned tranquil and bright, then came the great rumbles of a steam shovel, three trucks, and a bulldozer. The long-awaited digging of the foundation had finally begun. It took "five toilsome days" to dig out what the records call "a great, gaping hole."
Construction was laborious, and the limited means of the Congregation were practically exhausted to pay for the foundation work. As responsible stewards, the Marians only worked on the Shrine as funds permitted. Hence, the stop-and-go nature of construction over the decade of the 1950s.
In July 1950, the Bulletin noted, "However, we know that the merciful Jesus will not abandon us in the endeavor. ... This is best seen in the fact that Mr. Anthony Guerrieri — architect and builder, who has two priest-sons and two daughters in the convent — has come to aid us, despite the fact that our material means are wanting."
Finally, after 10 years of painstaking construction, the Shrine was solemnly blessed and dedicated by Bishop Christopher J. Weldon of Springfield, Mass., on May 30, 1960. Thousands of lay friends, associates, and well-wishers jammed Eden Hill for the dedication.
In his homily, Bishop Weldon noted the support of the many benefactors who made the Shrine possible. He asked all to join him in "giving thanks to God for the many blessings received during the arduous years of construction. [This building] stands as a testimony of faith," Bishop Weldon said. "It will stand as an edifice testifying to the mercy of God, a spiritual structure that will bring the message of Divine Mercy to countless lives. We know this shrine is from God. No human effort could move so far, so long, and so beautifully of its own accord."
For the Marians' part, they trusted in God, and their benefactors. Today, as a consequence of this tremendous act of faith, America has on Eden Hill a fittingly beautiful edifice to honor Jesus, The Divine Mercy.
Holy See's Personal Commitment
The Golden Jubilee has made 2010 special in many ways. Perhaps the most important distinction for this year can be found in the plenary indulgence granted by Pope Benedict XVI through the Apostolic Penitentiary. The Pope's generous action reflects his personal commitment to Divine Mercy, something he has expressed many times during his reign.
The Holy Father granted a plenary indulgence under the usual conditions of Sacramental Confessional, reception of Holy Communion, prayers for the intentions of the Pope (applicable also for the souls in purgatory), and ending attachment to sin. The indulgence opportunity began on Jan. 1 and will continue to midnight, Dec. 31, 2010. The indulgence is offered at all jubilee celebrations, when pilgrims visit the Shrine in devotional groups, and once on a day freely chosen by the faithful.
In this spirit of reflection, the Christmas season bids us again to reflect upon the mystery of the Incarnation. God became man by sending us His only beloved Son to bring about our salvation. The saving work of Jesus wasn't a one-shot deal, according to Fr. Jim McCormack, MIC, but "an unfolding process that continues to this day."
Asked to expand on that, Fr. Jim mentions as an example the appearances of Jesus to St. Faustina in the 1930s. Those visitations became the basis for the Diary of St. Faustina. As Fr. Seraphim Michalenko, MIC, points out, "the message of Divine Mercy is as old as Scripture, which abounds with God's infinite love for us." God in His goodness brought Jesus to St. Faustina so that we of the post-modern age "might hear the story of mercy in a way that's compelling to contemporary times."
The Marian Fathers and Brothers thank all who have supported us with their prayers, their time, their talents, and their treasure during this Golden Jubilee Year. And they extend blessings for the coming new year.