Archbishop hearkens back to St. John Paul II as he dedicates Shrine of Jesus the Divine Mercy, a ‘vessel of God’s grace’ in modern times
CLINTON TOWNSHIP — Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron opened his homily April 11 at the newly established Shrine of Jesus The Divine Mercy in Clinton Township with a quote from St. John Paul the Great when he established the Divine Mercy Shrine in Shrine in Krakow:
“‘O inconceivable and unfathomable mercy of God, who can worthily adore you and sing your praises? O greatest attribute to God almighty, You are the sweet hope of sinners.’”
The archbishop borrowed from St. John Paul’s Aug. 17, 2002, homily to mark the occasion at southeast Michigan’s newest shrine because both occasions have the same purpose: to make the grace of God’s mercy more abundantly available to God’s people.
“In the local church of Detroit, this day, at this shrine, is very much the same significance as the blessing of the shrine at Krakow,” Archbishop Vigneron said. “At that time, St. John Paul affirmed what he called, ‘those simple and straightforward words of St. Faustina,’ in order to join her with all those gathered in Krakow that day in adoring the inconceivable and unfathomable mystery of God’s mercy.”
Archbishop Vigneron celebrated a private Mass with the staff of the Shrine of Jesus The Divine Mercy on April 11, blessing and dedicating the Clinton Township location as an archdiocesan shrine. In doing so, the archbishop announced the faithful can receive a plenary indulgence there on Divine Mercy Sunday, the Sunday after Easter, as well as the feast of St. Faustina Kowalska, Oct. 5, and the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, Sept. 15.
The shrine, staffed by the Servants of Jesus The Divine Mercy, takes its name from the image of Divine Mercy that St. Faustina commissioned after a private revelation from Jesus, who expressed his desire for the world to know his infinite mercy.
“This is a phenomenal grace, a blessing from God, for every one of us — our team members and staff — to work out our salvation by serving the people of God, corporally and spiritually,” Catherine Lanni, spiritual moderator of the ministry of the Servants of Jesus The Divine Mercy, told Detroit Catholic.
The center also is home to the Women of Jesus’ Merciful Passion, an aspiring religious community in formation, who offer hospitality, prayer and outreach to the community.
“This is a massive confirmation and affirmation for all of us prayer ministers that all the years of prayer and offering penances, sacrifices and novenas, chaplets and Stations of the Cross, that God is pleased with the ministry,” Lanni said.
Since its establishment in 2006, the Divine Mercy Center has been a refuge to people of all faith backgrounds an a place where a true encounter with Jesus’ mercy can take place, Lanni said, particularly through its regular schedule of Masses, Eucharistic exposition and confession.
The prayer minsters at the shrine specialize is apostolic hospitality, Lanni added, being there for whoever might wander onto the shrine’s grounds.
“I remember, not too long ago, someone was lying down on the cement in front of the life-size corpus, the crucifix of the Stations of the Cross,” Lanni said. “He had a liquor bottle there and was just lying in front of Jesus. It was amazing; he didn’t want a prayer, didn’t want anyone around. So we offered him a cup of coffee and bowl of soup, and he just lit up. That’s what he needed. It’s about compassion, and the soul requires communion with one’s brothers and sisters.”
Lanni describes the shrine as a “soft landing ground” to God’s mercy, particularly for those who might have been abused or feel ashamed. The staff work to accompany people in a way that is more laid back than a formal parish.
“As St. John Paul said, the shrine to Divine Mercy exists so that men and women can glimpse once more in Christ the face of the Father, the Father of Mercies, the God of all consolation,” Archbishop Vigneron said. “With the eyes of our souls, we long to look into the eyes of the merciful Jesus in order to find deep within His gaze the reflection of his inner life as well as the light of grace already received so often, in which God holds you each day until the last day.”
Lanni began the center’s ministry after a deathbed encounter with Mary in 1986. After receiving what she described as a miracle healing, Lanni promised Our Lady she would “do something good for Jesus.” But she never imagine that “something good” would one day become an archdiocesan shrine.
“Some say love is God’s greatest attribute, but for me, it’s mercy,” Lanni said. “Mercy is love with legs, love in action — that I have your back, that I can help you walk through this.”
“There is so much suffering, so we offer our neighbors an opportunity to come here, receive our indulgences, to volunteer and serve the community here,” Lanni added.
Open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the shrine’s schedule is dotted with daily confession and adoration opportunities, plus a litany to St. Joseph on Wednesdays and opportunities for various prayer groups, all meant to bring people closer to God’s mercy.
“How greatly the people of Macomb County need God’s mercy; how greatly the men and women of southeast Michigan need God’s mercy,” Archbishop Vigneron said. “We need peace — peace in our homes, our schools and places of work in our communities. That peace that can only come from the power of this mercy when it is unleashed by our trust in Jesus.”
St. John Paul II’s original vision for Divine Mercy Sunday is a message that continues to be proclaimed every day at the new shrine, Lanni said: that God’s mercy is so great, so all-consuming, that it conquers everything.
“The message on my heart from the Lord is, ‘Thank you,’” Lanni said. “We have, even in the most difficult situations, so much to thank God for. We need to have merciful hearts, forgiving hearts, but true hearts. We need to seek truth in our age. And the truth is, Divine Mercy is the vessel for which God is working in a massive way in our times.”