WEST HARTFORD – Children forming a living rosary were among the more than 110 people who celebrated Divine Mercy Sunday at the shrine dedicated to the Divine Mercy in the lower level of St. Thomas the Apostle Church April 12.
A Holy Hour and confessions were held from 2-4 p.m. by Father Paul Halovatch of Good Shepherd Church in Seymour; Father Patrick Anthony, a priest at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Waterbury; and Passionist Father Christopher Cleary of Holy Family Monastery and Retreat Center in West Hartford. Father Edward M. Moran, pastor of St. Thomas, then celebrated Mass.
Father Halovatch said his homily at the Holy Hour was about the symbolism of the red and white rays emanating from the Divine Mercy image of Jesus that Saint Faustina Kowalska (1905-38) requested to be painted. Red symbolizes Christ’s blood, and white symbolizes the cleansing water of divine mercy, he said. “God’s grace is continually pouring out on people,” he told the Transcript. “If you can imagine being underneath a waterfall and imagine having that water pouring down on you continuously, that is like God’s grace. It is more than you can imagine,” he said.
“We were blessed by having a traveling image of Our Lady of Guadalupe,” said St. Thomas parishioner Sandy Shields, who organizes the yearly Divine Mercy event. The life-sized image is an exact replica of Our Lady’s tilma (cloak) given to Saint Juan Diego and was blessed by the rector of the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico.
She said that the parish music ministry, comprising Cheryl and Jeff Batter of Kensington, also works with the Children’s Rosary.
The Children’s Rosary is a lay prayer movement for children. At the celebration, the children sang the group’s theme song, “Rosary Children,” directed by Mr. Batter, who wrote the music.
The Divine Mercy shrine at St. Thomas was constructed with the guidance and financial support of parishioner Scott Scaria, who said the Divine Mercy has changed his life.
“I’ve had so many miracles happen with the Divine Mercy,” he said. “I had a Divine Mercy picture in my house, and I had a fire one time. I was renting a room to somebody, and I came home and the house was on fire. I couldn’t even go inside. The fire department told me to go check in the room. In my room, everything was saved, even from the smell of smoke on my clothes.”
His tenant’s room was destroyed, he said.
The incident prompted him to start a pilgrimage business, helping people travel to Poland to visit the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy, where Saint Faustina, to whom Jesus gave the message of Divine Mercy, lived and died. With $10,000 earned through organizing pilgrimages to Poland and other holy places, Mr. Scaria had the shrine built at St. Thomas in 2003.
The shrine includes a first class relic of Saint Faustina, images of the saint, a copy of the Divine Mercy image with the words “Jesus, I trust in You,” and more.