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Archives Celebrating Divine Mercy in Houseville

April 26, 2023

By Michelle B. Beagle
Contributing Writer

On Sunday, April 16, individuals gathered at St. Hedwig’s in Houseville to celebrate the Divine Mercy message brought to the world by Sister Maria Faustina Kowalska.

Father Douglas A. Decker and Deacons James W. Chaufty and Ronald J. Pominville presided over the celebration. Father Lawrence E. Marullo offered the confession along with Father Decker.

The congregation rose as the entrance hymn, “There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy,” song. Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament was exposed as “O Salutaris Hostia” was sung. Blessing of Holy Cards and petitions were done, and Rev. Decker provided the homily.

In his homily, Father Decker discussed the meaning of Divine Mercy and provided two examples of miracles. In one story, a couple was awaiting the birth of their baby, and a physician told the parents the child was going to have spina bifida. The couple faithfully placed their petition in the hands of St. Faustina and Jesus’ Message of Mercy. When the child was born, there was no evidence of spina bifida.

After the homily, the Divine Mercy Chaplet was recited with different members present leading the recitation of each decade. Silent adoration was held, followed by Benediction. Unique to this celebration, Father Decker had the congregation move forward to venerate the Divine Mercy Image and mentally lay down their burdens.

A reception followed in the church hall provided by the St. Hedwig’s Society members.

Before the 3 p.m. celebration, the movie “The Miracle Box, the Door to the Heart of God,” was shown in the church hall. The film, narrated by Bill Kirtis, contained testimonies of people who met Christ through the sacrament of confession. It helped illustrate God’s Mercy.

“The video was overwhelming with the message of confession and miracles that were told,” said Stephen Kraeger, a parishioner of St. Martin’s in Port Leyden. “It was powerful. The experiences I witnessed in the video brought me to tears. Then going to the beautiful service upstairs, it wanted to bring tears to my heart.”

Joe and Valerie Elacqua journeyed north from their home parish of Holy Trinity in Utica. When Valerie was growing up, she had an image of Divine Mercy in her room. She would see it every day, yet it wasn’t until Pope John Paul II proclaimed Divine Mercy Sunday that she realized the connection to the Message, “reminds me while we live, God is merciful and there for us. A beautiful reminder of God’s Ocean of Mercy.”

Her husband, Joe, has fond memories of growing up in the 1960s and camping at Whetstone Gulf State Park. He and his family would attend mass at St. Hedwig’s and considered St. Hedwig’s their summer church.

“Coming here to help celebrate brings back memories of childhood,” he said. “It’s like coming home, and the church structure has not changed much throughout the years.”

Kathy Hirschey, whose home parish is St. Mary’s in Glenfield, said she found the Divine Mercy event rewarding.

“The prayer is helpful,” she said. “I started attending Divine Mercy when St. Hedwig’s started offering it. The message and service help bring peace and is relaxing.”

Lois Fey, who attends Christ the Hope Church in Boonville, , shared how the message of Divine Mercy has been a key piece of her faith. Fey is a convert to the Catholic faith. A practicing Luthern Evangical, she believed in the actual presence of Jesus. However, when she started attending Mass with her husband Jim, there were three questions about Catholics to which Fey needed answers: First, why is there a pope? Second, she wanted to know, why does a person confess to a priest? Third, she asked Why worship Mary? “Once I received the answers to my questions, I could not wait to receive Communion. As a convert, I had never heard about St. Faustina, but then I heard about her Diary. Upon reading the Diary, I was amazed. I sat down and reread it; now, I am on my third reading. Each time something new stands out. Try to spread Mercy, for His Mercy endures forever. The Catholic Church is the truth, the direct line to Jesus. It is the way, truth, and light.”

Sister Faustina belonged to Poland’s Congregation of Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy. She was a sister of the 20th century, practicing and journaling her faith journey in the 1930s. In 1931, she started receiving visions and messages from Jesus. During her conversations with Jesus, He asked that she record the messages He provided. Obediently, she wrote the messages down. Today, this work is known as the “Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalski.”

Sister Faustina saw Jesus clothed in a white garment with His right hand raised in blessing while His left hand touched the area of His heart. Two rays came from the heart, one of red and the other white. Jesus directed her to record the image with the words, “Jesus, I Trust in You.”

The two rays denote blood and water. The pale ray stands for the Water, which makes souls righteous. The red ray stands for the Blood, which is the life of souls. These two rays issued forth from the depths of My tender Mercy when My agonized Heart was opened by a lance on the Cross. Happy is the one who will dwell in their shelter, for the just hand of God shall not lay hold of him (299). By means of this image, I shall grant many graces to souls. It is to be a reminder of the demands of My Mercy because even the strongest faith is of no avail without works – Diary of St. Faustina (742).

The above refers to the rite of Baptism and receiving the Holy Eucharist.

According to St. Faustina’s Diary, Jesus Christ made a special promise, which she was to communicate to the whole world (Diary, 699):
My daughter, tell the whole world about My Inconceivable Mercy. I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinner. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls approach the fount of My Mercy.

Pope John Paul II at St. Peter’s in Rome in 2000 canonized St. Maria Faustina Kowalska on Divine Mercy Sunday, and the Feast was officially declared.

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