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The Busy Season Begins

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By Dan Valenti (May 18, 2012)
Father Ken Dos Santos, MIC, rector of the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy on Eden Hill in Stockbridge, Mass., has a clear sense of mission when it comes to administering the sacred place: "Our focus in ministering to pilgrims should be solely about spirituality. The goal is to provide an encounter with Jesus through Divine Mercy."

Father Ken says, "People know [the Marian Fathers] have been charged with spreading the message of Divine Mercy. It's a big responsibility, and every day, I ask myself, 'How am I going to make an impact?' We are a small community. When it seems difficult or impossible to do, God does it through one or two."

The shyly affable rector says that this sense of responsibility and mission inspired him to set the 2012 Shrine calendar around several key spiritual events to help pilgrims experience the Lord's mercy. Father Ken highlights two of them.

The first was April 29, when Sr. Marie Simon- Pierre Normand shared her testimony of a miraculous healing. The French nun experienced a medically inexplicable, overnight cure from Parkinson's disease through the intercession of Blessed John Paul II, which came two months to the day after his death.

To a packed crowd in the Shrine, Sr. Marie Simon-Pierre shared the remarkable story of her healing, which was recognized as the miracle needed for the Great Mercy Pope's beatification.

"It's quite a thing to come into contact with people who have had a hand in a miracle and who are so connected to the saints," says Fr. Ken. "I think it's important for people to see that miracles do happen and that they are real. To meet such a person makes the miraculous tangible."

The second key gathering will be May 26, when Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC, presents his conversion story, "No Turning Back." That's also the title of Fr. Donald's bestselling book, which tells his story from a runaway with a criminal past to a Marian priest dedicated to Divine Mercy and Our Lady. Father Donald — who serves as the Marians' vocation director in the United States — travels around the world sharing his story.

"Even people who are aware of Fr. Donald's conversion story want to learn more," Fr. Ken says. "This gathering will give people the opportunity to meet the man. This will give them a different 'feel' for Fr. Donald and who he is. It also provides a good reason for visiting the Shrine. Father Donald and Eden Hill — that's a good combination."

Other events include "Divine Mercy 101" — a teaching by Br. Chris Alar, MIC, on June 9 and Aug. 4; various ethnic days, including Filipino and Brazil days, June 23 and 24, respectively; the always popular Encuentro Latino, Aug. 18; and "Introduction to Divine Mercy for Healthcare Professionals" on Sept. 22.

For up-to-date information on Shrine events, visit thedivinemercy.org/shrine or call (413) 298-3931.

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Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC - May 19, 2012

Looking forward to being there. Hoping many people can make it! The Shrine is such a powerful place for encountering the mercy of God!

DAN VALENTI - May 21, 2012

FR DONALD: Looking forward to covering your appearance. I, too, invite people to the Shrine for what promises to be a great day of grace, goodness, and God.