A Cenacle Grows in Alaska

By Franklin T. Elder

My wife, Susanne, and I of Juneau, Alaska, are pleased to announce that the first member of our Eucharistic Apostles of The Divine Mercy cenacle to complete all the lessons in the Formation Manual Book #1 has been inducted as a Eucharistic Apostle of The Divine Mercy.

The member's name is Chuck (Charles) Van Kirk.

You can see a photo of our cenacle above with Fr. Pat Travers, pastor of St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church, who was the celebrant for the induction ceremony. From left to right are Cathy Lindegaard (member), Susanne Elder (co-facilitator), Terry Elder (co-facilitator), Fr. Pat Travers (pastor, St. Paul's), Chuck (Charles) Van Kirk (inducted member), Lynn Van Kirk (Chuck's wife), and Ida Barnack (member). The photo was taken in the main sanctuary following the induction ceremony, which was conducted following Holy Mass on Sunday, May 19, 2013.

This is a happy event for Susanne and me. Permit me to tell you a bit of "the story" of the cenacle, which we call The Divine Mercy in Our Souls Cenacle, which serves the Diocese of Juneau and, in particular, the two parishes in Juneau - St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church and the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Susanne and I had begun to learn about Divine Mercy in 2010 through watching programs on the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN). We signed up for training by the Marian Fathers that was planned for July 2011 in Malibu, Calif. We wanted to immerse ourselves in this wonderful message.

Although we did attend that great training/retreat, our plans were somewhat changed when I was asked to be the 2011 director for an ACTS Men's Retreat in Juneau, Alaska, held in May 2011. In order to maintain our focus on Divine Mercy, I asked permission to set the Divine Mercy as the retreat theme. We had the image as the retreat banner, and we introduced elements of the chaplet into several events. God was awesomely present at that retreat! But we were happy to get back on track.

After the training in California, we determined the best thing for us would be to join a cenacle. When we used the locator function on the EADM website, we found there were no cenacles in Alaska. So the only solution was to form one. Susanne and I submitted our applications in September 2011. We decided not to compete with Christmas, and so we delayed the founding of the cenacle until the new year. We held an open meeting at St. Paul's in January 2012, and began meeting in our home at the beginning of February 2012.

We started with four of us (including Chuck, Susanne, and me), and began to read through the first book of formation. Immediately we were all impressed with the "lesson plans" (my wife was a school teacher), and we also liked the fact that many times the required readings were from the Diary of St. Faustina, the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), and Sacred Scripture.

As for our "favorite" lesson, truth be told, we never had a lesson we did not enjoy and learn from. But the second lesson in the book really got our attention, and we discussed it at length and have referred to it many times in the past year. In that lesson, God's "Eternal Now" is discussed. Some of the lesson focused on the "Eternal Now" as how God sees things, since He exists outside of space/time, which He created when He created the universe. That is what makes the Holy Mass so wonderful as we are made present at the Last Supper, at Calvary, and at the empty tomb.

The discussion made it clearer to us than it had ever been. We immediately saw the application of that in our prayer life. We can pray for others, alive and deceased, and God can apply those prayers as it pleases His Will in the past (from our perspective), in the present, and/or in the future. That puts us closer to those who have gone before us and it assures us that our prayers will be effective. From that, we determined for now, at least, our main role is to pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy for the sick, the dying, and the dead of the world, but especially of our diocese and local parishes. It is amazing how often in our meetings someone brings up the "Eternal Now" in a relevant way to the evening's discussion. We thank Bryan Thatcher for that lesson, for founding the EADM, and for all the formation books he has written.

In addition to our meetings, we sponsor the 3 o'clock hour on Saturday during St. Paul's monthly 28-hour adoration. During that hour, we sing the Chaplet and we pray St. Faustina's Way of the Cross. At first, it was just us, but it has been growing gradually in the past year (seems to peak during Lent).

Susanne and I were invited to teach the Divine Mercy devotions as a way of life at a meeting of one of the prayer groups at St. Paul's, and about 30 people came to that (thanks be to God). The pastor and visiting priests at St. Paul's have also let us recognize the first Sunday after Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday. We display the image of Divine Mercy in the sanctuary at all of the Masses and process in with the image banner for the main Mass at St. Paul's on that Sunday. We join with a great group of parishioners who are from the Philippines. They bring a statue image they use in their devotions and place it in front of the altar with flowers and sell ethnic food after Mass and donate all the proceeds to St. Paul's. How good is that? While they have not formed a cenacle or joined ours, their zeal for the devotion warms our hearts.

Two new members who bring fresh energy to our meetings have joined us in the past month or two. With God's grace we will continue to study, learn, and apply that learning to our lives for the benefit of souls. We ask for your prayers and continued support in our common efforts.

Learn more about EADM, including how to start a Divine Mercy prayer cenacle.

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