Rays of Merciful Love Summer 2023

I’ve tried to date things as best I can remember. I have traveled to so many places (most not listed here due to space limitations), have spoken to many churches and at conferences, and have met so many wonderful people and have had so many memorable experiences. The deeply spiritual people I have encountered are the ones that inspire me to keep pushing on. In 1994, a friend handed me the Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska and, as I began to read it, the words seemed to enlarge and jump out at me. A quote that got me through some difficult personal times was, “The greater the sinner, the greater the right he has to My Mercy” (Diary, 723). I began to understand God’s love for me, and I could not keep it to myself. Our church was forming Small Christian Communities where people met weekly in small groups to discuss the next week’s Gospel reading. I asked our priest if we could study the Diary of St. Faustina, and he agreed. That was the start of the first Divine Mercy cenacle. I wrote the first manual and integrated some Scripture and the Catechism of the Catholic Church into the lessons. That was the initial “Cenacle of Divine Mercy,” and things began to happen. While I was soaking up the information in the Diary, another friend sent me a photo of a Eucharistic miracle from Betania, Venezuela. I was unaware of it, and I began to read all I could find on the Real Presence and Eucharistic miracles. In 1994, I took my parents, wife, and our three children to Italy and viewed miracles like Lanciano (1). We saw Cardinal Francis Arinze (2) and joined him for Mass in his apartment. My eyes were opened, and I truly began to understand that Jesus is present in the Eucharist. In early 1995, I was invited to Samoa and met Cardinal Pio (3). He loved the message and wanted to form cenacles of prayer in the Polynesian islands. I brought him a beautiful pencil etching that Scottish artist Tommy Canning had done, entitled “Mary Mother of the Eucharist.” The people there love Our Lady and were extremely receptive of the message (4). He appointed Fr. Alapati as spiritual guide for the groups, and after his death Rome appointed him as the new Archbishop. And, 25 years later, Samoa hosted the World Congress on Divine Mercy (WACOM) this year. Later that same year, my son John Paul (5) was born, and 15 months later he survived a near drowning. Many of you know that story, and it is included in the section on “Trust” in Cenacle Formation Manual 1. I began to understand what the words, “Jesus I trust in You,” mean in a much deeper way. In late 1995, I called the Marians and they said there was no set program of formation for laity. I sent a query to the nuns in Poland, and they said they did not have one either. However, because of the inquiry, my wife Susan and I were invited by Cardinal Macharski to a conference in Poland outside Warsaw at St. Faustina’s convent. It was over the February 22nd weekend in 1996. It was on February 22, 1931, that the Lord first appeared to St. Faustina, and it also happens to be my birthday! There I met Cardinal Macharski and Mother Superior Pauline (6). We had a wonderful trip, and I fell deeper in love with the message of God’s mercy. One of my memories is my wife and I having a snowball fight outside the convent; it was snowing hard, and we don’t get to do that in Tampa! Shortly after, I traveled to Stockbridge for a “Fortnight on Divine Mercy,” with speakers Fr. Seraphim Michalenko, MIC, Fr. George Kosicki, and Vinny Flynn (7). There I learned more about Divine Mercy, and met more wonderful people like the late Lee Bowers, the late Joe Pallazolla and his wife, Carol, and Ron McBride; he would eventually become a priest and be part of the Marians. 2 YEARS ANNIVERSARY 25 1 2 3 4 5 6