Touching Hearts with Divine Mercy

The line-up was incredible. Teresa Tomeo, EWTN TV and radio host; Fr. Chris Alar, MIC, director, Association of Marian Helpers; and the incorrupt heart of St. John Vianney (1786-1859). All here at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy for Divine Mercy Weekend.

Four hundred Marian Helpers, including some of you, our club members, came to join us for the 2019 Divine Mercy Weekend Conference at the Saint Faustina Center on April 27.

Participants had an opportunity to venerate the incorrupt heart of the patron saint of parish priests, St. John Vianney, a French cleric whose incredible miracles, long hours in the confessional, and devotion to the Eucharistic Jesus transformed an area whose faith had been ravaged by the spirit of the age surrounding the French Revolution into an international center of Catholic pilgrimage and prayer.

Gathering for the conference from as far away as California and New Brunswick, the conference participants responded enthusiastically to Tomeo's story of growing up culturally Catholic, then putting her career first for years before returning to the full practice of her faith. Tomeo's turning point came after her husband had a profound reversion of his own through a Protestant Bible study led by her then-boss' husband.

"Surrender to God's mercy, and then respond to it," said Tomeo. She spoke of the liberating power of the teachings of the Catholic Church, even and especially the hard teachings. And once we've let God's mercy into our lives, she explained, we must not stop there. "What steps are you taking to evangelize? When you receive God's mercy, you don't keep it to yourself."

Next, Fr. Chris gave a barnstorming talk on the priesthood and the Mass, opening by asking everyone to pray St. Faustina's prayer for holy priests (see Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, 1052).

Father Chris proceeded to call on his brother priests to be like their patron St. John Vianney. "We need priests who are going to stand for the truth," said Fr. Chris, to preach the fullness of Catholic teaching boldly in the face of a secular world that discards, derides, or ignores so much of it. He also addressed the current wave of scandals caused by priestly betrayal that's currently hitting the Church, acknowledging the incredible devastation caused to victims. "We need to renew the Church," he explained. "That's why we [the Marian Fathers] are getting all these vocations."

His talk concluded with a deep dive into the Scripture, history, and theology underpinning the Mass.

Club members attending the Conference found the talks very powerful. Senen, from Merciful Redeemer Parish in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, shared that Tomeo's story of conversion, "for me ... gives me the hope that even though I fall down, God is always there for me, and He is merciful. It's just consoling to know."

Of the second talk by Fr. Chris, Senen said, "Before, I thought I knew the Mass 90 percent. Now I know 99 percent about the Mass. The next time I hear Mass ... it'll be more meaningful to me."

Visit TheDivineMercy.org/Mercy2019 to watch video recordings of the presentations by Teresa Tomeo and Fr. Chris Alar, MIC.

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