It Started with a Simple Prayer Card

By Marc Massery

More than 20 years ago, Yvonne McCool found a Divine Mercy prayer card in the narthex of her Catholic church, and it made such an impact on her that as of today, she’s given away about 6,000 of those cards herself. 

But before she discovered Divine Mercy, before she even became Catholic, Yvonne was raised in a Methodist home. When she was in her teens, her mother had a strong conversion to Evangelicalism.  

It wasn’t until her mid 30s, after she went through a difficult divorce, that Yvonne started down a path that would lead her to the Catholic faith. “I started dating a man who is now my husband who was Catholic,” she said. “He asked me if I would go to Mass with him. I was very nervous to go because I had no idea what to expect.”

They went to a beautiful church in Alexandria, Virginia, a town where Yvonne spent most of her adult life. Immediately upon walking in, she noticed how calm and prayerful everyone was. She wondered why they were all focused on something toward the front of the church. “I had no idea why everyone was knelt down in prayer, but they were,” she said.

To her, this felt like the opposite of what she had previously experienced in worship services. “[In Evangelical churches] there was always lots of singing with all kinds of emotion, which I always found very overwhelming,” she said. She didn’t realize just how different Catholic worship was. “Then I thought to myself, ‘Oh. I could do this!’” she said. So she continued going to Mass and eventually decided to enter RCIA. She came into the Catholic Church in 1997. 

Sometime in the mid-1990s, she found a wallet-sized Divine Mercy prayer card in her church. She was struck by the words on the back of it: “The greater the sinner, the greater the right he has to My mercy,” from the Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska (723).

“I was thinking, ‘Oh, that’s neat. This is my kind of prayer!’” she said. So, she committed the prayers of the Divine Mercy Chaplet to memory and would pray them while she went running. “[The prayers were] so simple and easy to pray but I had no understanding of Divine Mercy then. I just knew I wanted it,” she said. 

At her parish, she got involved with an apostolate that reached out to people who wanted to return to the Church but had issues or questions. Over the years, Yvonne became the de facto Divine Mercy expert in the group. “I would always be the one to talk about Divine Mercy,” she said. 

In the summer of 2018, Yvonne moved with her husband, Jim, to Tel Aviv, Israel, for Jim’s work. When she got there, she started going to daily Mass at St. Peter’s Church in Jaffa, the town where St. Peter raised Tabitha from the dead (see Acts 29:40). 

“You can imagine I was a little lost when I got to Israel,” she said. “I had been working, and then in Israel I wasn’t, so I had more time on my hands. I thought to myself, ‘What am I doing here?’ Imploring God, [I said,] ‘What should I be doing here?’ Then the idea of putting Divine Mercy prayer cards in the church came to me, and I said, ‘OK. I can do that.’”

So she received permission to start putting Divine Mercy prayer cards out, in English and in Spanish, on a table in the church for pilgrims, tourists, and locals to grab. 

The cards went so quickly that at first, she wondered if they were being stolen. “I just kept putting the cards out, and it was just amazing,” she said. “I’ve given out more than 3,000 in each language.”

Every now and then, if she feels called, Yvonne will personally hand Divine Mercy prayer cards to specific people in the church. 

“If they’re praying fervently, I’ll just have a feeling and give them a card,” she said. “I love to give them to people who come in with private tour guides, and you get the sense they’re not Catholic. I like to give the Divine Mercy cards to them and tell them that these are powerful prayers.” 

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