This biography, formerly titled Mercy My Mission, includes many excerpts from St. Faustina's famous Diary. Whether read alone or as a study aid to reading the Diary itself, this bo... Read more
Photo: Felix Carroll
Jane and Tom Spahn and Fr. Christopher Weldon visited the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in July — part of concerted effort to immerse themselves in the Divine Mercy message.
'Tell the Priests ... Tell Everyone'
By Felix Carroll and Mary Kay Volpone
Aug. 16, 2010
It was that simple to Jane Spahn of Carmel, Ind. "No Priests, No Eucharist," she said during her first visit to the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Mass., in July.
Jane prays for priests and supports priestly vocations, including those of the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception, the administrators of the Shrine.
"It's a simple truth," she said. "If we don't encourage vocations to the priesthood and support these young men in their vocations, then we won't have the sacraments. Can you imagine what it would be like without the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation?"
Tom, her husband, joined Jane on the two-day Shrine pilgrimage. The couple brought along a young priest, Fr. Christopher J. Weldon, 34. Months in the planning, the Shrine visit represented the Spahn's and Fr. Weldon's concerted effort to immerse themselves in the Divine Mercy message, which they feel duty-bound to share with parishioners back home.
Since priests are in short supply and in high demand these days, many, like Fr. Weldon, rely on faithful parishioners to serve in a spiritual partnership that Christ implores and the Church requires. After all, Pope John Paul II himself urged that the "message of God's merciful love proclaimed by St. Faustina ... be made known to all the peoples of the earth and fill their hearts with hope."
Jane and Tom know full well that the revitalization of the Church hinges upon The Divine Mercy call to trust in Jesus, turn from sin, receive His mercy, and spread His mercy to others.
Jane learned about Divine Mercy in the late 1990s. "Once our Lord touched my heart, I wanted everyone to know about Divine Mercy," she said.
While in Eucharistic Adoration a couple years ago, "I felt in my soul that Jesus was saying, 'I know you love Me, and I know you love Divine Mercy, but I want you to take this very seriously because the world needs Divine Mercy. It needs My message. You need to tell the priests. You need to tell everyone.'"
Jane described how this love for Divine Mercy intensified. Her parish, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, was already celebrating Divine Mercy Sunday, and they prayed the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy once a week along with other devotions. "But I wanted to do more," Jane said.
She began writing articles for the bulletin educating parishioners about the revelations of Divine Mercy through St. Faustina and how they relate to the sacraments, especially Holy Eucharist and Reconciliation. It was important to Jane to get the priests on board. They fully complied by preaching the message from the pulpit.
"Our priests must also remind us of Jesus' words to St. Faustina — that we are to exercise God's mercy by deed, word, and prayer" (see Diary, 742).
By working together, her parish has become more vibrant and more compassionate towards one another's needs, and it continues to flourish.
Her husband Tom, an otolaryngologist, says his role is supporting Jane in her ministry. "I'm learning too, but when she wanted to support the Marian vocations, I fully supported her decision," he said.
The Spahns first met Fr. Weldon when he served as associate pastor of their parish. He's since become pastor of the St. Francis of Assisi Newman Center in Muncie, Ind. The Spahns and Fr. Weldon became quick friends, joined in no small part by a common love for Divine Mercy.
"Divine Mercy is a personal story for me," Fr. Weldon said. "I can relate to it directly. In His message to St. Faustina, Jesus talks about how we are all called to receive His mercy and then becoming vessels of that mercy.
"When Jane had given me St. Faustina's Diary to read a while back, I read all of the bold type where Jesus speaks. I used them as meditations, especially when I got to my new parish. ... That really helped me deepen my devotion and open my heart to be more tender to that grace and that love that He gives us."
By giving Fr. Weldon the Diary, Jane was following a command to St. Faustina from Christ Himself — a command that has since become a rallying cry for laypeople around the world.
Christ told St. Faustina, "My daughter, speak to priests about this inconceivable mercy of Mine" (Diary of St. Faustina, 177).
Indeed, from the outset, the spread of the extraordinary message of The Divine Mercy has come from ordinary people. First, it was a lowly, unheralded Polish nun who the world knows today as St. Faustina. Now, 72 years after her death, Divine Mercy has grown to what many refer to as the "greatest grassroots movement in the history of the Church."
Father Weldon is the first to admit that while priests must serve as "shepherds of the flock" — herding the flock within the truth of the faith — priests must also have the humility to listen to the sheep as they tell him how they need to be spiritually nourished. "The grassroots call for devotion to The Divine Mercy serves as a beautiful example," he said.
"Divine Mercy is the answer for how to bring healing and hope to the world," Jane said.
Upon arriving at the Shrine on July 21, Fr. Weldon was asked to give the homily during the afternoon Mass. He also preached the following day.
After all, he's a celebrity of sorts for the Marians. That's because Fr. Weldon is a distant relative to the late Bishop of the Diocese of Springfield, Mass., Christopher J. Weldon. It was Bishop Weldon who, on May 30, 1960, solemnly blessed what is now known as the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy, the spiritual home for thousands of Divine Mercy apostles throughout North America.
You could say Divine Mercy is his lineage. But for all the children of God, it's our lineage. Tell all priests. Tell everyone.