A Mercy-filled Sunday
WICHITA FALLS — Faithful Catholics filled St. Peter Church in Lindsay for a Divine Mercy Service April 28, even while one of the biggest parties in Texas, Muenster’s 44th annual Germanfest, was taking place only 11 minutes away.
Jim and Susan Brown and their three children, Maria, 11, Lily, 9, and Mark, 7, decided to attend the service while in Muenster for Germanfest.
“We wanted to honor the feast,” Susan Brown said. The family lives in Sherman, 45 minutes away.
The Browns also prayed the Divine Mercy Novena prior to the feast. And Susan Brown recently started reading the Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska.
The local Divine Mercy Service started shortly after St. Peter parishioner Janet Jordan read St. Faustina’s Diary in the late 1980s. Jordan, who grew up in Muenster and raised her family with her husband, Sam, in Lindsay, began sharing the diary’s message of mercy with her family before spreading it to the parish.
Since the Divine Mercy Service’s start in the late ‘80s, it has alternated locations between St. Peter and Sacred Heart Parish in Muenster just to the west.
For many years, Janet Jordan’s sister, Linda Wimmer, has been organizing the Divine Mercy services, including this year’s event. Their mother, Margie Krahl, and St. Peter’s parishioner Andy Bezner have helped with the last several services in Lindsay.
“This Divine Mercy [devotion] means a lot to me,” Wimmer said. “My daughter was killed in a car accident in September on her way home from Mass. It was a drunk driver that hit her. And basically, I really wanted to know when she died or when they pronounced her dead because of the Divine Mercy Hour. She died at 3:05 p.m. She died in the hour of mercy. She was 25.”
Wimmer hopes all parishes would have Divine Mercy services because Jesus told St. Faustina His desire was that the Feast of Divine Mercy be celebrated in churches all over the world.
Krahl believes the first Divine Mercy Service they had in Muenster was probably one of the first ever held in Texas — since it happened at least 10 years before St. Pope John Paul II established the Divine Mercy Feast on the second Sunday of Easter in 2000.
“Like the prayer says, we need God’s mercy more [now] than we’ve ever needed it in the history of the world, I believe, or in my time at least,” Krahl said.
Catholics walking into the beautifully ornate St. Peter parish could pick up a laminated booklet entitled, “Divine Mercy Holy Hour” with the Divine Mercy image and the words “Jesus, I Trust in You’ on the front to guide them through the service.
The St. Peter’s choir with Music Director Orlando Vera led the faithful in the hymn, “Come Holy Ghost,” as two Knights of Columbus processed in with a huge, blessed image of the Divine Mercy while a layperson held the first-class relic of St. Faustina, a piece of her bone. Six Fourth-Degree Knights stood on the sides of the aisles as the procession walked by. With the image placed on a very large easel between two “stairway to heaven” rose arrangements, the priest exposed the Blessed Sacrament in the monstrance and the faithful sang “O Salutaris Hostia.”
The service continued with several prayers, including a sung Divine Mercy Chaplet, alternating with times of silence in Adoration.
“I love the prayers — how we pray for everybody and pray for the whole world,” said Michelle Burch, who attends nearby St. Mary Parish in Gainesville. “Then it gets more intimate, [praying for those] in our own lives, in our families, all the generations.”
After St. Peter Pastor Father Matthew Tatyrek processed out, everyone had the opportunity to venerate the relic and image. Various people knelt and crossed themselves. Others kissed the relic and image. Some simply touched it. But people of all walks of life venerated them.
Both the image and the relic are kept in Krahl’s home.
“To make a long story short, we obtained [the relic] with permission from the Vicariate of Rome under Pope John Paul II back in the ‘80s, and we had permission to actually keep it in the family,” Wimmer said.
Jordan pointed out that the relic says Beata or Blessed Sr. Faustina, so they received the relic even before she was canonized a saint. Krahl said she bought the image from the National Divine Mercy Shrine in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.
“It’s really inspiring to see the church full on a day like today because you know that with the Blessed Sacrament exposed earlier, the picture of the Divine Mercy, and then with St. Faustina up there, you know that [just] as with those rays coming out of the picture, the rays from the Blessed Sacrament are literally enveloping and going to everyone’s soul,” Jordan said.
Jordan and Wimmer both said they don’t know how people will be affected, but they know they will be affected in some way.
“[The Divine Mercy services in Muenster and Lindsay] are just a beautiful expression of a devotional tradition within the Church — and how appropriate that we celebrate it on the second Sunday of Easter,” Fr. Tatyrek said. “Christ talks of peace, and mercy is really an Easter gift.”