Pilgrimage planned to National Divine Mercy Shrine Print E-mail
Around the Diocese
Written by Todd Burud, For the Catholic Herald   
Thursday, Feb. 10, 2011 -- 1:00 AM

MADISON -- The Knights of Divine Mercy is sponsoring a pilgrimage to the National Divine Mercy Shrine in Stockbridge, Mass., for Divine Mercy Sunday, May 1, 2011.

It will be a joyful and holy journey, drawing pilgrims closer to Christ and His Church in solidarity with fellow Catholics. Solidarity takes on a whole new dimension when the pilgrimage from Madison joins almost 20,000 people at the Sunday Mass.

The pilgrimage departs from Madison on Friday, April 29, and returns on Monday, May 2. Fr. Rick Heilman is the spiritual director.

Unique, active pilgrimage

A unique characteristic of this pilgrimage is its active nature. Participants may volunteer to assist the shrine in its weekend activities: candle bearer, crowd control, usher, assistant to disabled visitors, gift shop sales, and more.

This four-day pilgrimage balances volunteer work with rest, reflection with camaraderie, and shrine activities with sightseeing. It promises to be an enjoyable, memorable, Catholic adventure.

Highlights include dinner at the shrine with rector, Fr. Dan Malone, a Divine Mercy Conference on Saturday morning, quiet reflection on the shrine grounds (Lourdes grotto, Adoration, Stations, beautiful countryside), Divine Chaplet, daily Mass, farewell banquet, sightseeing (Berkshire Mountains, Norman Rockwell Museum), and more.

The National Shrine of the Divine Mercy is located in Stockbridge, Mass., in the heart of the Berkshire Mountains, on 350 acres. In 1943, the Marian Fathers purchased a portion of the land as a novitiate.

In 1996, the U.S. Catholic Bishops Conference declared it a National Shrine. Last year, the shrine broke ground on its plans to construct a life-size Stations of the Cross. Its Canadian sculptor, Tim Schmalz, will produce over 50 bronze sculptures.

Divine Mercy devotion grows

According to Dr. Robert Stackpole, author of Divine Mercy: A Guide from Genesis to Benedict XVI, “Divine Mercy is God’s love reaching down to meet the needs and overcome the miseries of His creatures.”

God’s mercy is revealed in Scripture, in Christ’s Passion, and in saints like Augustine, Bernard, Aquinas, Catherine, Francis, and Therese.

Today, the Divine Mercy Devotion is popularly understood through St. Faustina’s apparitions in the 1930s. Through her, Jesus revealed an image with two rays streaming from His breast, one representing the water of Baptism, the other, the Blood of the Eucharist.

He expressed his desire for a Feast of Mercy on the first Sunday after Easter and revealed the Chaplet as a prayer of atonement. The Divine Mercy devotion reminds us of God’s merciful love and to anchor our spiritual life in trust.

A great place to be on PPJII’s beatification

Pope John Paul II canonized St. Faustina in 2000 and established Divine Mercy Sunday. In 1981, he wrote the encyclical, Dives in Misericordia (Rich in Mercy). He died on Saturday, April 2, 2005, the eve of Divine Mercy Sunday.

So, this year, it is fitting to be at the National Shrine on Divine Mercy Sunday during Pope John Paul II’s beatification, both on May 1.

The itinerary is still forming and subject to change. The cost is approximately $950 per person, based on double-occupancy (includes flight, hotel, most meals, coach, and tips). A discount is available to families of three or more. Burkhalter Travel is assisting with trip details.

It is important to register your interest ASAP. The pilgrimage is limited to 44 people. For more information and to register, call 608-821-3152, 608-767-1418, or 608-798-3612 or write: Knights of Divine Mercy, Bishop O’Connor Center, 702 S. High Point Rd., P.O. Box 44983, Madison, WI 53719.

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