April 23, 2017
On September 28
th 1978 I arrived in Rome as part of a group of new seminarians ready to start our studies for the priesthood at the English College and the Pontifical Gregorian University. That night John Paul I died, after only thirty three days as Pope. That meant we were present at the funeral of one Pope and the election of the next, and in the years that followed I saw a good deal of Pope John Paul II: I was a choir member and altar server at pontifical Masses, I heard him preach and speak on many occasions and had the chance to shake his hand several times. As sacristan of the English College when he came to say Mass for the fourth centenary of the seminary I got to talk to him briefly and he declared that I looked younger than my years - something I have since claimed to be an infallible statement!
Pope John Paul II died at about 9:30 p.m. on Saturday April 2
nd 2005. It was the eve of the Second Sunday of Easter, renamed as Divine Mercy Sunday by the Pope in the year 2000, and the Vigil Mass was celebrated by the Pope’s secretary in his room before he died. Six years later, on Divine Mercy Sunday 2011, John Paul II was beatified by Pope Benedict; and then in 2014, again on Divine Mercy Sunday, he was canonized by Pope Francis, together with Pope John XXIII.
It was through Pope Saint John Paul that the world became aware of the Divine Mercy devotion: Saint Faustina’s writings, the picture of the Christ the Divine Mercy with the rays which signify Baptism and the Eucharist, the simple prayer “Jesus, I trust in you”, and the Divine Mercy Chaplet containing the repeated petition “For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world”. I think the devotion has a permanent place in the Church’s prayer life, yet it is still not as well-known and understood as it should be. That’s why we are having a special event in the parish this coming Friday.
Performing Artist Nancy Scimone will present her one-woman drama
"Saint Faustina - Messenger of Mercy" at 7 p.m. in church on Friday April 28th. Her script uses only Saint Faustina's published Diary, and the drama needs no scenery, special lighting or stage sets. This simplicity maintains the focus on St. Faustina's humble convent life and the message of Mercy. The audience truly senses that they are in the convent, and it is not uncommon for audience members to say after the performance that they felt they were actually “seeing Sister Faustina”. At the end Nancy Scimone welcomes questions from the audience about the Diary, Divine Mercy and Saint Faustina. The drama runs about one hour and is appropriate for all ages including small children. There is no charge for the performance so do come, and do invite your friends.