Place of pilgrimage and prayer an enduring sign of God’s love, archbishop says; dedication to take place Divine Mercy Sunday
CLINTON TOWNSHIP — Detroit-area Catholics have another sacred space to visit, receive graces and implore God’s abundant mercy.
On March 26, Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron announced that the Divine Mercy Center in Clinton Township will become an archdiocesan shrine, the Shrine of Jesus The Divine Mercy, in recognition of the center’s service as a popular place of pilgrimage and its mission of sharing the mercy of God with the people of southeast Michigan.
The Shrine of Jesus The Divine Mercy is the fourth shrine encompassing an entire campus in the Archdiocese of Detroit, joining the recently proclaimed Our Lady of Fatima Shrine in Riverview, St. Joseph Shrine in Detroit — which were named shrines last year — and the National Shrine of the Little Flower Basilica in Royal Oak, which was elevated to a national shrine in 1998.
Smaller shrines also exist within churches, such as the Shrine of St. John Paul II inside the Our Lady of Orchard Lake Chapel or the Shrine of Ste. Anne inside the Basilica of St. Anne in Detroit.
“With its designation as an archdiocesan shrine, we recognize that the Shrine of Jesus The Divine Mercy will continue its service as a sacred place of pilgrimage, a font of tremendous grace and aid for many of Christ’s faithful, and a welcoming reflection of God’s enduring mercy to all souls,” Archbishop Vigneron said.
As an archdiocesan shrine, pilgrims will have the opportunity to gain a plenary indulgence upon visiting the shrine, along with the usual requirements of praying the Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be for the pope’s intentions and making a confession within a week of the visit.
The Shrine of Jesus The Divine Mercy, at 33826 Beaconsfield St., Clinton Township, was established in 2006 by the Servants of Jesus of the Divine Mercy and their foundress, Catherine Lanni. The Servants began in 2003 as a lay association of the faithful “whose mission is to encourage people to experience the mercy of God, to minister with love and compassion, and to open the door to healing through which all may pass,” according to the group’s website.
St. Faustina Kowalska, a Polish nun, had a vision of Jesus in 1935 that began the devotion to the image of Divine Mercy following the publication of her diary in 1939. In 2000, St. John Paul II’s designation of Divine Mercy Sunday, the Sunday after Easter, popularized the devotion.
The shrine today is a place of prayer, reflection, healing and grace, celebrating Mass every Friday at 11 a.m. along with a daily recitation of the rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet, and ample opportunities for confession. Visitors can walk the 13-acre grounds adorned with Stations of the Cross and various statues of saints.
Prayer ministers are on site daily to pray with guests, and Eucharistic adoration is available throughout the week. When COVID-19 safety allows, the center also offers free daily lunch for visitors.
“We are excited to see the outpouring of Jesus’ Divine Mercy upon this community and the fulfillment of God’s blessings upon this ministry,” Lanni said. “What a blessing it is to continue the work of this ministry, which propagates the mercy of God.”
A visit from the Blessed Mother
Lanni established the Servants after her own encounter with the Blessed Mother. She had complications with her first pregnancy, which caused the loss of her son. Then, following the delivery of her fourth child, her third daughter, she was on her deathbed when she had an encounter with the Blessed Virgin.
One of her daughters, Benedetta Morley, executive director of the Shrine of Jesus The Divine Mercy, said her mother promised the Blessed Mother she would serve the Lord if God would spare her life.
“The Blessed Mother appeared to her, so she begged for her life, saying, ‘I, too, lost my only son,’ when Our Lady appeared,” Morley told Detroit Catholic. “She said, ‘Even though it’s nothing compared to what you experienced with Our Lord, I pray for you to go to the throne of God and beg for my life so I can at least raise my children.’”
Lanni recovered and raised three daughters. In 1992, Lanni said Jesus appeared to her and expressed His desire for Lanni to start a ministry dedicated to His Divine Mercy and healing in the Church.
That vision became the Servant of Jesus of The Divine Mercy, a lay association established in 2003. The center opened in 2006.
For the past 15 years, the Divine Mercy Center has accepted visitors from all over the archdiocese and beyond who come to pray, experience physical healings, go to confession and seek a place of refuge — including some with nowhere else to turn.
“There was a lady I sat with who came every day, Monday through Friday, for lunch, and I’d just sit and talk with her,” Morley said. “She may or may not have come in for a prayer, but by the end of the summer, she said to me, ‘I can’t believe how this ministry had spared my life.’ She told me she was contemplating suicide, and she said having that fellowship, having that community with her, it changed her in a dramatic way. It spared her life. She needed that refuge, that place to be.”
Women of Jesus’ Merciful Passion
The Shrine of Jesus The Divine Mercy is also home to the Women of Jesus’ Merciful Passion, a women’s community with aspirations of becoming a religious order.
Also founded by Lanni, the community works at the shrine, praying the Our Lady of Sorrows rosary, the Angelus and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy daily. This year, the community has begun praying the litany of St. Joseph on Wednesdays, in honor of the Year of St. Joseph.
In addition to completing day-to-day tasks at the shrine, the Women offer prayer ministry and outreach by visiting nursing homes, hospitals and residences when COVID-19 restrictions allow. Members hope the new designation leads to greater awareness of the community’s mission.
“We’re hoping and praying we will be able to expand on our ministries as a community,” said Sr. Sarah Poirier, a member of the aspiring religious community. “The center becoming a shrine is a great opportunity to reach out to more people with the message of Divine Mercy.”
The shrine will be open to the public from 2-4 p.m. on Divine Mercy Sunday, April 11, with Eucharistic adoration, access to the Our Lady of Guadalupe atrium, prayer request box, candle shrine, gift shop, outdoor Stations of the Cross, and the Our Lady of Sorrows rosary garden.
Archbishop Vigneron will celebrate a private Mass at the center that day, which will be recorded and available on the shrine’s website and social media channels.
Morley said the honor is a significant blessing for the visitors to the center, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, just like the announcement of Detroit’s other recent shrines.
“It’s a blessing and a tremendous honor,” Morley said. “The archbishop has been to the center and from the beginning has known our mission. It’s beautiful to see Detroit is becoming a place where people can pilgrimage to different shrines. It’s a tremendous opportunity for people, especially after going through COVID, but always, to come and experience Christ — to experience these shrines and grow in faith.”
Visit the shrine
The Shrine of Jesus the Divine Mercy is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., and every second Tuesday of the month from 7 to 9 p.m. Mass is celebrated at 11 a.m. on Fridays, with reconciliation available one hour before Mass. For more information, visit sjdivinemercy.org.