April 15, 2022

Across the archdiocese, individuals promote Divine Mercy

A Divine Mercy chaplet with beads spelling out “Jesus I Trust in You” is shown here. The chaplet was made by Kathy Eberle of St. John Paul II Parish in Sellersburg. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

A Divine Mercy chaplet with beads spelling out “Jesus I Trust in You” is shown here. The chaplet was made by Kathy Eberle of St. John Paul II Parish in Sellersburg. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

(Editor’s note: Following is the second of two articles looking at how parishes and individuals in the archdiocese are spreading the Divine Mercy message, as revealed to St. Faustina Kowalska in visions of Christ in the 1930s. The first article appeared in our April 8 issue. Divine Mercy Sunday will be celebrated this year on April 24.)

(See a list of services offered at our churches)
 

By Natalie Hoefer

During one of Christ’s visions to St. Faustina Kowalska in Poland in the 1930s, he expressed the intensity of his desire to bestow mercy as follows: “The flames of compassion burn me. I desire greatly to pour them out upon souls” (Divine Mercy in My Soul: The Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, #1190).

In her diary, St. Faustina recorded the numerous ways of receiving this mercy that Christ called her to share: celebrating the feast of Divine Mercy, gazing upon the Divine Mercy image, performing acts of mercy and praying the Divine Mercy chaplet and novena. (Learn to pray the Divine Mercy chaplet)

St. John Paul II declared the first Sunday after Easter as the feast of Divine Mercy, or Divine Mercy Sunday, in 2000. Since then—and even before— Catholics throughout central and southern Indiana have promoted Divine Mercy Sunday services in their parishes and the praying of the chaplet and novena.

Following are stories from Sellersburg and Indianapolis. They share the ways in which two individuals and one group have promoted devotion to Divine Mercy in their parish and with others.

‘Jesus asked us to do this’

“Ask of my faithful servant [a priest] that, on this day, he tell the whole world of My great mercy; that whoever approaches the Fountain of Life on this day will be granted complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. Mankind will not have peace until it turns with trust to My mercy.” (Diary, #300)

Paula Stahl recalls reading St. Faustina’s diary “a long time ago,” even before St. John Paul II established the feast of Divine Mercy.

“A few years after [reading the diary], I heard this voice say, ‘Go ask your priest to celebrate this feast,’ ” she says. “It wasn’t an official feast yet, so I ignored it.

“The next year, I had the same thought. I was living in Colorado at the time. I gave my priest a book about the Divine Mercy and said, ‘Father, I’d like to celebrate this feast in the parish. I’ll take care of everything.’ He came back the next day and said yes.

“I have learned if our Lord wants something done, it will happen no matter what.”

That first celebration she organized was 27 years ago. Since then, Stahl has also initiated and coordinated Divine Mercy Sunday services in one parish in Florida and three in Indiana, including Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary in Indianapolis, where she is now a member.

“I start by asking the priest if he is willing to celebrate this feast,” she says. “I’ve never had a priest say no.”

Stahl says it’s important to honor the feast “because Jesus asked us to do this, because he said on that day, he will open the floodgates to all grace and his mercy,” reflecting words from paragraph 6999 of St. Faustina’s diary.

She notes that Christ also “wants us to show mercy in prayer, word and deed [Diary, #742]. Deeds are a real must. Praying for [Russian president Vladimir] Putin right now would be a deed of mercy.

“Right now, we really need to be praying for peace and mercy for all.”

‘The thought of a merciful Savior’

“Tell the whole world about My inconceivable mercy” (Diary, #699). “Do not tire of proclaiming My mercy” (Diary, #1521).

A group of members of St. John Paul II

Parish in Sellersburg take these words seriously.

What started as two women who prayed the Divine Mercy chaplet in their church has grown into a group of about eight members who promote the celebration of the feast in their parish and devotion to Divine Mercy there and beyond.

“We meet once a week,” says Phyllis Burkholder. “Each of us has little jobs to do for Divine Mercy Sunday.”

Tasks like handing out fliers in advance on praying the Divine Mercy chaplet at

3 p.m., the time which Christ told

St. Faustina was the “hour of great mercy” (Diary, #1320).

Or tasks like working with their pastor, Father Thomas Clegg, in coordinating a prayer and worship service on the feast of Divine Mercy.

“Actually, you don’t even have to plan anything special” on that day, Burkholder notes. “You can have the image displayed for all the Masses that day.

“Jesus pours his mercy on all who come to Mass, go to confession in Lent and are in a state of grace. It’s like a second baptism—all your sins are wiped away, all the stain and all the punishment.” (See page 12 for more information on requirements for the Divine Mercy Sunday plenary indulgence.)

The group does more than promote Divine Mercy in their parish—thanks to one man, says Burkholder.

“When Marvin Popp joined, he pulled out all the stops,” she says. “He created packets of information we pass out with a booklet, a chaplet and fliers.

“We pass those out by getting conversations started with anyone, anywhere we meet them. I think a lot of people are grateful to get them because they don’t know about the graces of Divine Mercy.

“For instance, Jesus said he would stand between a dying person and his Father as merciful Savior, not as a judge [Diary, #1541].”

That message really touches people, says Burkholder.

“Everyone is scared of judgment,” she notes. “But people take hold of the thought of a merciful Savior.”

‘God had plans for me’

“My daughter, encourage souls to say the chaplet which I have given to you. It pleases Me to grant everything they ask of Me by saying the chaplet. When hardened sinners say it, I will fill their souls with peace, and the hour of their death will be a happy one” (Diary #1541).

Kathy Eberle’s love for the rosary traces back to her two grandmothers. Both women were devoted to praying the rosary, one even dedicated to making them.

When Eberle and her husband moved in the early 1990s to Fishers, Ind., in the Lafayette Diocese, they became members of St. Louis de Montfort Parish.

It was there that Eberle learned how to make rosaries, following the path of her grandmother. She started a rosary-making group at the parish, taught adults and children how to make rosaries, sent rosaries to soldiers overseas and made rosaries for group events.

She was pleased when she and her husband moved to Sellersburg in 2009 and became members of St. John Paul II Parish, knowing the former pope had great devotion to Mary.

On a first Saturday of the month, after Mass and praying the rosary at the church, Eberle was asked if she knew about the Divine Mercy devotion.

“I said yes, then I was asked if I would be interested in making chaplets for Divine Mercy,” she recalls. “God had plans for me!”

The Divine Mercy chaplet uses the same number of prayers as the rosary (see page 9 for instructions on how to pray the chaplet), so Eberle was tasked with designing a chaplet that would stand out from other rosaries.

She looked to the Divine Mercy image for her inspiration.

In the image, red and white rays flow from Christ’s heart, representing the blood and water that poured from his pierced heart after he died on the cross (Diary, #299). Accordingly, Eberle used predominately red and white beads for the chaplet.

Another signatory feature of the image are the words “Jesus I trust in You” that appear below Christ.

“I decided to use letter beads to spell out that message on the chaplet,” says Eberle.

Five words, five decades—it all came together. Adding a blessed Divine Mercy medal to each chaplet provided the final touch.

Her chaplets are now included in the Divine Mercy packets the group at her parish hand out.

“Some [chaplets] I give away, some I sell,” she says. “I’ve been making a lot for the Divine Mercy service in April” at her parish.

“A lot has happened since I started” making the chaplets, says Eberle. “I can see things working for the good in the parish and in spreading the Divine Mercy message.

“I have a feeling my journey is not over yet, making rosaries and the chaplet. As long as my hands can make them, I’m not done.”

(The archdiocesan Catholic Community Foundation offers the Queen and Divine Mercy Fund to help finance projects promoting devotion to the Queenship of Mary and to the Divine Mercy of Jesus. For information on how to apply for the grant, go to www.archindy.org/finance/grant.html, or contact Stacy Harris in the Finance Office at sharris@archindy.org, or by phone at 317-236-1535 or 800-382-9836, ext. 1535.) †

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