Photo: Felix Carroll
Marians Thank the Volunteers
By Dan Valenti (May 20, 2011)
On Divine Mercy Sunday Weekend, April 30-May 1, hundreds of volunteers came to assist the Marians Fathers to serve nearly 20,000 pilgrims in tasks ranging from first aid and crowd control to Eucharistic ministry and cleaning port-a-johns. On Sunday May 15, about 120 volunteers returned to Eden Hill for the annual Mass and thanksgiving picnic celebrated and held in their honor.
Mass was celebrated at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy. The picnic, following, took place at the Marians' monastery and residence attached to the Shine on Eden Hill. In his brief talk to the volunteers, Fr. Ken Dos Santos, MIC, rector of the National Shrine in Stockbridge, Mass., expressed his thanks:
"You are so important to us, in more ways than you know," Fr. Ken said. "We couldn't celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday [Weekend] here without your help. There is no way we can properly repay you, but please accept this meal as a token of our gratitude."
2.3 Years of Work in Two Days
Later in an interview, Fr. Ken said that without the help of some 600 support staff donating their time, Eden Hill's signature weekend would be a "logistical nightmare" that would probably be impossible to conduct. The former electrical engineer did the calculus: 600 volunteers times 8 hours each day amounts to 4,800 person hours donated to assist pilgrims on Divine Mercy Sunday Weekend. Add it up, and it would take one person 2.3 years to supply the amount of effort volunteers donate to the National Shrine and the Marians in two days.
At the volunteer picnic, there were the "volunteers' volunteers." They were the handful of women, led by Christine Kruszyna, who worked in the kitchen. They spent the morning and afternoon prepping, cooking, and setting up the long buffet table loaded with hot dogs, hamburgers, condiments, potato salad, pasta, salad, chips, and many desserts.
The picnic began shortly after the 2 p.m. Mass and the singing of the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy at 3 p.m. Volunteers were treated to the great food, lovingly served, and shared many a story from Divine Mercy Sunday Weekend. It had the feel of veteran soldiers reuniting after the campaign, sharing stories.
The event included a prize raffle. A gardening set, a blanket, a tote bag and other items were part of the giveaways.
Helping to Fulfill St. Faustina's Mission
Long-time Divine Mercy Sunday volunteer Arthur Dutil reflected back.
"Over the years, we've had all sorts of challenges," Arthur said. "We've had health concerns with the flu virus. We've had bad weather from rainstorms to snow and ice. Plus there are always the issues that come up when dealing with large numbers of people confined to a relatively small space. Each year, it's amazing to see the dedication of our volunteers and how they manage to accomplish the job with minimum problems."
As he speaks in his typical selfless manner, Arthur invokes irony: He's one of the most dedicated and hard working volunteers, and the praise he showers on others must come back to himself.
God would want it that way. It was the Marians' Father Founder, Blessed Stanislaus Papczynski, who in his will bequeathed heavenly merits through the intercession of Jesus and Mary for anyone who helped the Congregation in its mission. Father Founder realized the Marians couldn't do it alone, so he and Father Renovator Blessed George Matulewicz Matulaitis envisioned a vital role for the laity in the Congregation's work.
Since the early 1940s, the Marian Fathers have been the official promoters of The Divine Mercy message and devotion, working to fulfill the job Jesus gave to St. Faustina.
Each volunteer, from the latrine cleaner to the Eucharistic minister, works directly on that same holy job.
"I don't mind doing it," says Michael Baccoli, owner of Southern Berkshire Janitorial Services, who donates his own time and that of his staff to the Marians for the weekend to service the port-a-johns. "It's got to be done. We try to keep the facilities as clean as possible and take care of any problems that come up." When reminded of the importance of his job, Michael shrugs it off as a day's work — a day's work, he forgets to add, in which he receives no monetary compensation.
Then again, Michael knows why he comes back to Eden Hill year after year on Divine Mercy Sunday weekend. This soft-spoken man of few words won't say it, but he does it because it feels good helping out other people. That's mercy — treating others with compassion, whether they deserve it or not.
Perhaps Fr. Ken put it best: "We have to be the hands and feet of God for each other on earth. It's true. God depends on us to do His work here on earth." Looking at the volunteers enjoying the picnic, he says: "It's so gratifying to know there are such good people."