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Photo: Jesus Alvarado
What Happens When an Image 'Floats' By?
By Felix Carroll (Aug 1, 2013)
Mounted on a trailer and pulled by a red tractor, the image of Divine Mercy was paraded through the streets of Oak Harbor, Wash., on July Fourth.
In a time when public display of Jesus, particularly in secular settings like a town parade, can raise hackles, in Oak Harbor's three-mile parade, it was quite the contrary.
The rancher who pulled the float with his tractor is non-Catholic. He volunteered his services just to be neighborly. He was stunned by spectators' reactions.
"They did that thing you guys do," he told the float's organizer, referring to the sign of the cross.
Indeed, as the eight-feet-by-three-and-a-half-feet Divine Mercy image processed, spectators bowed their heads and made the sign of the cross as the float went by. Military personnel from the local Navel base even took off their caps and saluted.
Eleanor Manni organized the float, prompted by inspiration she received during prayer. "All of this was the Holy Spirit, believe me," says Eleanor, who previously never had anything to do with parade floats.
She speculates she was chosen by Christ to spearhead the float not just because of her devotion to Divine Mercy, but also because of her heritage. Growing up in Waterbury, Conn., where fellow Italian-Americans made no bones about processing through the streets with a statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, she has a particular affinity for unabashed, public celebration of the faith.
Eleanor and her husband, Kenneth, run a Divine Mercy center connected with their parish, St. Mary, in Anacortes, Wash. The center hosts a Divine Mercy prayer cenacle. With approval from her parish, the center teamed up with perennial parade participants the Knights of Columbus, who processed with the float.
Eleanor simply wanted people to see the image and hopefully to encounter Christ in their own hearts.
"There are still so many people who don't know about the Divine Mercy message," Eleanor says. "These are troubled times, and people need to know how much God loves them. My prayer was that, as the image processed down the street, He would affect every soul in Oak Harbor and throughout the whole world."