Pilgrims brave elements, travel hundreds of miles to celebrate annual Divine Mercy Sunday


Photo Gallery | 2016 Divine Mercy Sunday

Video | Thousands brave the cold, snow and high winds to attend Divine Mercy Sunday Mass in Stockbridge

Video | Pilgrims brave the cold, snow and high winds to attend Divine Mercy Sunday Mass in Stockbridge

STOCKBRIDGE — As wind-swept snow blew across Eden Hill Sunday afternoon, 4-year-old Monica Bramer felt Brother Charles Richardson needed warming up.

So Monica and her mother Emily Bramer from Indianapolis brought Richardson a hot beverage as he stood outside the National Shrine of the Divine Mercy The seminarian from Connecticut had volunteered for crowd control for the annual Divine Mercy Sunday celebration.

"That was very cute," Richardson said of the girl's merciful gesture.

The Bramers travelled 800 miles to Stockbridge, in part, for Monica's special connection to the Catholic feast day, observed the Sunday after Easter.

"She was baptized on Mercy Sunday as she was born the day before," Emily Bramer noted.

The mother and child were among the several thousand pilgrims who braved single-digit wind chills and occasional snow-squalls for the outdoor Mass, the highlight of Mercy Sunday weekend staged annually by the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception.

"Snow and wind won't halt the faithful," Matthew Jared Tucker, said, echoing the sentiment of other Facebook postings from the hallowed grounds.

Pauline Cayo from Chicopee came prepared for the wintery weather decked out in layers of warm clothing and two blankets.

"All in all, a little sun will make it good," she said.

Broadcast to millions worldwide on the EWTN Global Catholic Network, Sunday's main event took on added significance as Pope Francis declared this the Jubilee Year of Mercy. The Marian Fathers have promoted the Divine Mercy Message and devotion since 1941.

Divine Mercy Sunday is an international Catholic feast day promoting Jesus' message that he's merciful to everyone and that people should trust in his mercy and lead a compassionate life.

"In a world that is torn by violence, division and the horrible effects of humanity's sinful nature, this Jubilee year is an oasis of hope and comfort to all who seek the peace that is rooted solely in the mercy of our loving God," said Most Rev. Mitchell T. Rozanski, bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield.

The main celebrant for Sunday's Mass, Rozanski urged those who recite the Lord's Prayer they take to heart the passage: "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."

"Our blessed Lord admonishes us that these cannot merely be words spoken, but truly he asks us to live them. This, we know is the most difficult part of mercy," he said.

The bishop's homily paid homage to a pair of key figures in promoting Divine Mercy: Mother Angelica and Blessed Stanislaus Papczynski.

The founder of EWTN in 1981, Rozanski called Mother Angelica a "great apostle" of Divine Mercy, devoted to the Mercy Sunday braodcast from Eden Hill. She died a week a go on Easter Sunday at the age of 92.

Papczynski is the 17th century Polish Catholic priest who founded the Marian Fathers and will be declared a saint on June 5.

"[He] demonstrated a heorioc trust in the Lord, especially in the early days of founding this religious community," Rozanski said.

Contact Dick Lindsay at 413 496-6233


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