July 2009

There have been recent exciting developments with regard to the promotion and understanding of Divine Mercy in the Oceanian region, and as a result, for New Zealand.

 From July 15 - 20 I attended, with my daughter Anna-Marie, Monsignor Bill Middleton (Christ the King Parish) and Alex Bailey and Natasha Hodgetts (Youth Coordinators for Christ the King), the first Oceanian Apostolic Congress on Mercy (OACOM), held in Apia, Samoa.


Archbishop Alapati Mataeliga of Samoa, Pat Barrett National Coordinator for NZACOM, Fr Patrice Chocholski General Secretary for OACOM, Mons Bill Middleton PP Christ the King Church

This congress was part of the continuum of congresses, to be held in various regions of the world this year, springing from the World Apostolic Congress on Mercy (WACOM) convened in Rome during April 2008, which I also had the privilege of attending.


From the outset the Samoan congress for Oceania was a magnificent occasion replete with an outpouring of joy, praise, thanksgiving, and mercy. There are times during our pilgrimage on this earth, irregular but noteworthy, when we truly assume a life of more of less complete grace. OACOM was one of these times, blessed in every way by the Lord as a gift of Himself to a nation completely devoted to God. As participants we were able to share and experience this gift through the lives of the Samoans we met at conference, through the many gifted speakers, through the inspiring priests of the Samoan Diocese, and through the gentle but firm hand of the Shepherd of Samoa, Archbishop Alapati Lui Mataeliga., whose vision, devotion, organization, and hospitality transformed the congress into six days of ’resting at the feet of Christ.’  
St Faustina’s prophetic words resonated with utmost clarity throughout this congress,

My mission will not come to an end upon my death….I will draw aside the veils of heaven to convince you of God’s goodness.” (D281) As devotees of Divine Mercy I believe we were transformed into greater emissaries of mercy for our world and especially for our families and parishes, but as we know this mercy we received is not to remain locked in our hearts but to be reflected into the hearts of all, through word, deed, and prayer. Though the congress centred on the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in the heart of Apia, there were each evening additional gatherings for prayer, adoration, testimonies, and cultural participation in outlying parishes. Two of these were particularly memorable, the evening programmes at the exquisite

Shrine of the Three Hearts of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, amid the lush forests on the hills above Apia, and in the beautiful gardens and way of the Cross of the Basilica Minor Sancta Ana. 

Yet the devotional aspects of Divine Mercy were, in a sense, overshadowed by two greater truths - the Mission and Message of Mercy. The Mission, as a way of life for all, a personal vocation, which the Saviour gave us from the Cross and in his public life on earth. His self-gift for humanity. The Message, as an urgent and compelling need to proclaim mercy to a hopeless and heartless world, a world full of self but which mysteriously seeks to find solace and love as the Prodigal Son, returning to the Father. We are called to aid our brothers and sisters on that journey, which is also our particular journey. It was a journey often spoken of at the congress and poignantly so by Fr Patrice Chocolski, General Secretary for WACOM and priest of the Diocese of Belley-Ars, Lyon, France, representing Cardinal Schonborn of Vienna (President of WACOM), and who articulated two great acts of mercy that the Church, constantly and in every situation, exhorts us to embody, “Where is your brother… ?” (Gen 4:9) and “…your brother here was dead and has come to life, he was lost and is found”, (Luke15:32)  

No, we cannot be ’Cains’, voicing his epithet, “Am I my brother’s keeper ?” (Gen 4:9). We are guardians of our brothers and sisters, and we must act so, to seek, to find, and to welcome home our lost brothers and sisters in one continuing act of mercy. Yet sometimes we are called to go away, as Fr Patrice explained, to vanish as Christ did, awaiting another time in prayer and sacrifice, until the coming of the Prodigal. The grace of the congress is continuing now to bring blessings to New Zealand and throughout the Oceanian region with the announcement that there are to be national congresses for all those nations that attended in Samoa during 2010.

Monsignor Middleton, along with Fr Rory Morrissey of Herne Bay Parish, Auckland, have been named Spiritual Directors for Divine Mercy for New Zealand and I have been named as National Coordinator for the New Zealand Apostolic Congress on Mercy 2010. (NZACOM) 

For a long time, it seems, the Divine Mercy movement has been struggling to find acceptance in the Church, but now under the legacy the Great Mercy Pope, the guidance of Pope Benedict, and the active participation of Cardinal Schonborn, Fr Patrice, and many others the Church Universal has joined the fray, in force, and with her great clarity of vision and command, propelling us out into the deep, to “let down your nets for a catch.” Luke 5:4.

So then as the Lord commands, “Do not tire of proclaiming My mercy”(D1521), but seek it and exercise it always. Especially we ask you that you pray and offer Holy Hours for the national congress and the visit of Bishop Uzoukwu next year (see P4) And when it seems that you cannot find the strength for your daily struggle, you need only -

“ …look to the one whom they have pierced. (John 19:37)