|A breviary group at St. Henry Church visited the National Shrine of Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, as part of its observance of the recently-completed Year of Mercy. The pilgrimage to the Shrine capped off the group’s study of God’s Divine Mercy, particularly as it was revealed to St. Faustina Kowalska.|
A breviary group at St. Henry Church in Nashville decided that during the recently completed Year of Mercy they would dive deeply into a study of Divine Mercy. And for them, the year culminated with a visit to the National Shrine of Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.
The breviary group at St. Henry, which has been a fixture for more than 20 years, gathers each morning after daily Mass to recite the Liturgy of the Hours prayers. Fifteen to 20 people attend each meeting.
The group’s Year of Mercy celebration was the brainchild of member Mary Pat Payne. “She came up with this idea that during the … Year of Mercy, we should take the time to study God’s Divine Mercy, and pray and meditate upon it together; particularly as it was revealed to St. Faustina,” said Chris Wohar, a member of the group.
“So, we met at her house once a month,” Wohar explained. “We sang together. We prayed the Divine Mercy Chaplet together. And we really dug deep into this whole concept of Divine Mercy and what it means in our lives. The travels we made together really came out of all this.”
The group took two trips together this past year, the first happening the week after Easter. “On Divine Mercy Sunday this past April, we took a day trip by car to visit the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception, who have one of their residences in Kentucky,” Wohar said. “Their apostolate is to spread the message of Divine Mercy.”
The pilgrimage to the National Shrine took place in late October, and included 17 people, 14 from Nashville and three from Kentucky. Marian Father Mark Baron, who serves a parish in Washington, D.C., and is a friend of Payne’s, accompanied the group and served as tour guide and spiritual mentor.
“It was such a blessing to have him with us,” Wohar said. “He celebrated Mass with us several times and gave some keynote talks on Divine Mercy during our time there. His presence and leadership really made this a pilgrimage instead of a fun, touristy trip among friends.”
The group was unable to do everything it wanted to do because of inclement weather, but they were able to cross many activities off their itinerary. “We had snow up there, which made it difficult to do tours of the grounds,” Wohar said. “But we had Mass several times with the Marian Fathers. We had prayer time. We had a healing prayer service in which Father Mark laid his hands upon everyone and prayed over them. Many of the people who went count that as a highlight.”
|St. Henry parishioners stop to pray before a Divine Mercy image at the National Shrine of Divine Mercy.|
For Wohar, the pilgrimage capped off a very personal journey she’s taken to learn more about Divine Mercy.
“Last year, I took a trip to Krakow, Poland, and visited the place where St. Faustina Kowalska received the Divine Mercy revelations directly from Jesus,” she said. “This past year, I visited the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception on Divine Mercy Sunday with several of my closest friends, and we capped it off with a trip to the National Shrine of Divine Mercy here in the U.S. So, for me personally, this past year has been an opportunity to trace the path of Divine Mercy devotions from its Polish place of origin all the way to America.”
The pilgrimage was a memorable experience for those who went and Wohar highly recommends that all Catholics visit the Shrine.
“This past year, this group of people really has grown closer together as we’ve shared our faith with each other, and this pilgrimage was a part of that,” she said. “The Shrine is really a beautiful place to visit, and our trip there was incredible. We learned about Divine Mercy as it was understood by St. Faustina. We learned about it as it was understood in St. John Paul II’s life. We discussed the importance of the Corporal Works of Mercy in Mother Teresa’s life and ministry.
“The three days we spent there were a great end to a great year we spent together as a group.”