In his April 20, 2000, homily at the canonization of St. Faustina Kowalska — known as the “Apostle of Divine Mercy” — Pope John Paul II made an unexpected announcement: The second Sunday of Easter “from now on, throughout the church, will be called ‘Divine Mercy Sunday.’”
Eleven years later, a group of pilgrims from Oregon celebrated Divine Mercy Sunday in a way they’d never forget, in the Shrine of Divine Mercy in Krakow, Poland, where St. Faustina is buried.
“We were inspired by the peacefulness, the graces that you can’t even explain,” said Melba Ganaban, a member of Our Lady of Sorrows Parish in Portland and leader of the Divine Mercy and Our Lady of Fatima Crusade. “We knew many people would love to come to Poland, but can’t, so we thought, ‘Let’s bring Poland to Portland.’”
On April 23, the crusade, which is celebrating its 17th anniversary this year, organized its sixth Divine Mercy Sunday celebration at Our Lady of Sorrows.
The event was attended by parishioners from a number of parishes and included exposition of the Blessed Sacrament; a reflection on mercy by Father Ron Millican, pastor of Our Lady of Sorrows; the rosary; opportunities for confession with one of eight priests, including Father Theodore Lange, spiritual director of the crusade; and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. A vigil Mass concluded the celebration.
Ganaban said this year’s event had special significance given it is the centennial of the Marian apparitions at Fatima, Portugal. Mary appeared to three shepherd children six times May through October 1917. Both Mary’s message at Fatima and the Divine Mercy message call the wounded world toward healing, forgiveness, prayer and love, said Ganaban.
“In our world today, it is especially important to bring people back to prayer,” Ganaban said. “It is a time filled with persecution, abortion and war. … And we need to spread a message of love and mercy and forgiveness, to open the hearts of people.”
In his homily on the Gospel of “doubting Thomas,” Father Millican spoke about God’s desire to have “a personal, intimate relationship with us … no matter what.”
He said even though Jesus had a glorified body, he appeared to his disciples with all his wounds. “He bares those marks to be a stark reminder to each and every one of us that we are loved.”
Father Millican said Jesus also wants us to know that he can take “our sins and make something out of them if we let him. He can make us a better version of ourselves. He can make us more holy. He can make us more like him — a wounded healer.”