Divine Mercy Center encourages families to join #themercymovement this Sunday, offers downloadable icon to print and share

CLINTON TOWNSHIP — Cindy Helms was at home, listening to Teresa Tomeo’s “Catholic Connection” radio program when a moment of inspiration struck. 

Tomeo was interviewing a priest who was encouraging the faithful to place an image of the Divine Mercy on their doorpost, invoking the Lord’s protection against COVID-19.

Helms had an “on again, off again” devotion to the image of the Divine Mercy, the famed image first painted at the direction of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, with the words “Jesus, I trust in you,” below the image.

“I just love the idea and thought, ‘I’m going to do that,’” Helms, a member of Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish in Plymouth, told Detroit Catholic. “I put the link out to my mom and sisters, my cousin’s wife, and we all put it up within an hour. It’s so beautiful to see people posting image of the Divine Mercy on their doors.”

The Divine Mercy Center in Clinton Township is encouraging people to do the same, using the hashtag #themercymovement. People are also taking pictures and posting them to the Divine Mercy Center’s Facebook page

“We’re really living Divine Mercy right now. This is what it’s about in times of great suffering, to be with people and encourage them spiritually to place their trust in Jesus,” said Catherine Lanni, foundress of the Servants of Jesus of the Divine Mercy and the Divine Mercy Center. 

Catherine Lanni, foundress of the Divine Mercy Center in Clinton Township, said people are finding reasons to trust in Jesus’ mercy even during difficult times.
Jennifer Smith, a regular visitor to the Divine Mercy Center since it opened in 2006, poses with the image on her front door.

Lanni said the center offers a prayer request hotline that it checks twice per day, with people praying before the Blessed Sacrament throughout the day. It also has been posting inspirational quotes daily on its website and social media.

“People have been asking the community to offer a prayer, the rosary and chaplet for an end to the virus,” said Carla Reyna, ministry coordinator for the Divine Mercy Center and a member of the Servants of Jesus of the Divine Mercy. “Right now the center is closed, but our gates are still open, so if people want to drive through and pray by the Stations of the Cross or the Our Lady of Sorrows Garden, they can.”

The Divine Mercy Center’s gates are open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. The center asks people not to leave their cars while they pray. 

Divine Mercy Sunday, the Sunday after Easter since St. John Paul II established it on the liturgical calendar in 2000, normally features parishes placing the Divine Mercy image front and center, giving the faithful a greater opportunity to venerate the image. 

With public Masses suspended and people being asked to stay home, this year’s Divine Mercy Sunday takes on a new meaning, Lanni said. 

“We know the whole message of Divine Mercy is to trust in Jesus,” Lanni said. “I believe this is a real test of our trust, our faith in Him, but we know Jesus will take us through this.

The Stations of the Cross garden at the Divine Mercy Center in Clinton Township, overseen by a large crucifix, is open for prayer from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, but the center asks people to remain in their cars.

“How would we know what our level of trust is if it was not tested to some degree?” Lanni added. “We know Christ promises us that he is with us always until the end of time, that nothing happens without the will of God.”

Jennifer Smith lives across the street from the Divine Mercy Center in Clinton Township. She is disabled and deals with mobility issues but has been a regular visitor to the center since it opened in 2006. 

When she first visited the center, “I had this anointing experience,” Smith said. “It was right after Easter, before Divine Mercy Sunday, and the image has always spoken to me since.”

Smith follows the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception, a Massachusetts-based religious order who preach about the Divine Mercy and have championed the doorpost idea.

Helms also has images of the Divine Mercy all over her house. 

“This is one of the years I’ve been re-inspired,” Helms said. “Sometimes, you do something in your spiritual life that strikes you in the moment, and you hear something on the radio or you read something and it rings true with what God is calling you to do right now.

The Adragna family of Clinton Township prays the Divine Mercy Chaplet at their kitchen table. With people stuck at home, opportunities for family prayer have increased, Lanni said. 

“The Divine Mercy image is a constant reminder that we are to trust in Jesus,” Helms added. “It’s an extra blessing and protection for our family.”

In a time when people aren’t allowed to visit their neighbors, Smith hopes any delivery person who sees the image on her door will be blessed. 

“The Divine Mercy that we speak of through Jesus Christ is real, and it’s penetrating into our society,” Smith said. “We need to reach our neighbors, we need to figure out how to do more. This is a way to show his mercy and grace and love for us.” 

Lanni said this Divine Mercy Sunday is an opportunity to build up the “domestic church” by asking the Lord to bless people’s homes and put one’s faith in mercy. 

“It can be very holy, very effective, to recognize the home as the domestic church,” Lanni said. “Families are worshiping together, praying together, and can still adore the image of the Divine Mercy, pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, honor the 3 o’clock hour (when Jesus is believed to have died on the cross) together. Implore God with whatever is in your heart at that hour. 

“We know we are seeing difficulties right now, but Jesus’ mercy is here, and this is a time to grow in virtue,” Lanni added.