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National Shrine Marks Anniversary of Pope John Paul II's Death

March 28, 2006 - 12:00 PST


Catholic PRWire

Kathleen Ervin
*Photos available upon request

STOCKBRIDGE, MASS -- On April 1 -3, the Marian Fathers and Brothers will join the worldwide Church as they commemorate the first anniversary of the death of Pope John Paul II with a series of special liturgical events at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge.

The daily rosary at the National Shrine will be dedicated to the memory of Pope John Paul II -- a fitting tribute to the man of God who has a special love for Mary, the Immaculate.

Says Shrine Rector Fr. David Lord, MIC, "Not in recent memory has a spiritual father so completely impacted the world-at-large. At this one year anniversary we gather together to remember Carol Wojtyla, Pope John Paul II -- a man of great vision and great faith -- by celebrating what was most important to him; the Mass and the rosary."

The schedule of events:

April 1
10:00 am, Retreat Presentation: "God is Rich in Mercy," Fr. David Lord, MIC
1:00 pm, Speaker Presentation: Fr. Kazimierz Chwalek, MIC, " Witness for Mercy, John Paul II"
1:30 pm, Rosary for the Beatification of John Paul II
2:00 pm, Mass
3:00 pm, The Chaplet of The Divine Mercy

April 2
1:00 pm, John Paul II, A Life Filled With Grace," Fr. David Lord, MIC
1:30 pm, Rosary for the Beatification of John Paul II
2:00 pm, Mass
3:00 pm, The Chaplet of The Divine Mercy

April 3 pm, Rosary for the Beatification of John Paul II

One year ago, on April 2, 2005, thousands of people flocked to the National Shrine as word spread of the imminent passing of the Holy Father. Many knew of the Marians special relationship to Pope John Paul II due in no small to the Congregation's special devotion to the Divine Mercy and St. Faustina, a message that was dear to the Holy Father's heart.

Many came to lay flowers at the Holy Father's bronze statue while others went to the St. Faustina chapel to see the glass case holding the zucchetto (skull cap) and rosary of the Pope John Paul II -- a gift to the Marians and a reminder that he was with them in thought and prayer. All came to remember and pray for their spiritual father and leader.

The Marians and Pope John Paul II have have historically had a specially connection. Pope John Paul II specifically charged the Marians of the Immaculate Conception, an international religious congregation that originated in Poland, to promulgate the Message of the Divine Mercy throughout the world. The Marians of the Immaculate Conception are considered as the experts on the Message of the Divine Mercy in the Catholic Church. In 1993, Pope John Paul II gave the Marian Congregation a special mandate: "Be apostles of Divine Mercy under the maternal and loving guidance of Mary."

The Marians also published "The Making of the Pope of the Millennium - Kalendarium of the Life of Karol Wojtyla" a comprehensive record on the life of Carol Wojatyla.

Known by many Catholics as "the Great Mercy Pope," John Paul II died on the Vigil of the Feast of the Divine Mercy. The date of the Pontiff's death is incalculably significant. He personally inaugurated The Feast of Divine Mercy on April 30, 2000, which he described as "the happiest day of his life."

As many currently speculate on the defining elements of John Paul II's legacy, he himself expressed that the Message of the Divine Mercy was at the heart of his pontificate: Right from the beginning of my ministry in St. Peter's See in Rome, I consider this message [of Divine Mercy] my special task. Providence has assigned it to me in the present situation of man, the Church, and the world. It could be said that precisely this situation assigned that message to me as my task before God (Homily delivered November 22, 1981, at the Shrine of Merciful Love in Collevalenza, Italy).

John Paul II considered the message of Divine Mercy central to his ministry - calling it "always near and dear" to him. It was, in his own words, "a particular support and an inexhaustible source of hope" for his own country during the tragic years of World War II. "This was also my personal experience which I took with me to the See of Peter and which, in a sense, forms the image of this pontificate," he added.

John Paul II reiterated this central element of the Message of The Divine Mercy in a homily delivered at the Shrine of Divine Mercy in Cracow, Poland on June 7, 1997: "There is nothing more man needs than Divine Mercy -- that love which is benevolent, which is compassionate, which raises man above his weakness to the infinite heights to the holiness of God."

On August 17, 2002, John Paul II consecrated the entire world to The Divine Mercy. He had done so "with the burning desire that the message of God's merciful love proclaimed by St. Faustina may be made known to all the peoples of the earth and fill their hearts with hope. May this message radiate from this place to our beloved homeland and throughout the world... In the mercy of God the world will find peace and mankind will find happiness."

Pope John Paul II passing on the Feast of Divine Mercy becomes a powerful affirmation of the importance of the message of the mercy of Christ who promised to St. Faustina, "On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy" (Divine Mercy in My Soul Diary, 699).

St. Faustina was a young, uneducated, Polish nun who received extraordinary revelations or messages from our Lord. Jesus asked St. Faustina to record these experiences, which she compiled in six notebooks. These notebooks are known today as the Diary of St. Maria Faustina and the words contained within are God's loving message of mercy. The Diary is an impressive account of the trials and joys of St. Faustina as she encountered Jesus Christ.

The National Shrine of The Divine Mercy is a ministry of the St. Stanislaus Kostka Province of the Congregation of Marians of the Immaculate Conception. The Province is based in Stockbridge. For more information about the National Shrine or the John Paul II special events, please call, 413-298-3691.


Marians of the Immaculate Conception
Kathleen Ervin - Director of Comm, 413 298-1322 298-1322


Pope John Paul II, Divine Mercy


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