On Divine Mercy Sunday, a crowd of about 500 worshippers filled the Divine Mercy Healing Center in Easton for five hours of prayer, including a Rosary, Mass, and outdoor procession with the Divine Mercy image. Prayers and hymns were offered in English, Spanish, and Malayalam, the language of Kerala, India.
The devotion to Jesus Christ under the title “The Divine Mercy” is derived from the writings of St. Faustina Kowalska, a Polish nun who died in 1938. Often accompanied by the Divine Mercy Chaplet prayer, the devotion is based on praying for and practicing mercy and on complete trust in Jesus. The Divine Mercy image, a painting of Jesus with two rays emanating from His heart that represent the water of Baptism and the blood of redemption, is also based on the vision of St. Faustina.
The celebration was preceded by a three-day retreat that drew pilgrims from as far as Texas and Florida, said the Center’s director, Father Thomas Sunil Aenekatt, VC.
“The mercy of God has been revealed to us on the Cross. It is the same mercy of God that flows into the Church through the Sacraments. The Divine Mercy revelation through St. Faustina has made it more meaningful and clearer that people are in need of God’s Mercy,” said Father Aenekatt, who describes the Center’s ministry as focusing on physical, emotional, and spiritual healing as well as on the healing of relationships.
50 people attended the recent retreat, which culminated on Divine Mercy Sunday. One retreatant made his first confession in 40 years.
For many, it was not their first visit to the Center.
“This place is a spiritual oasis. When things are getting bad, I’m like, okay, I know where to go,” said Stephen of Springfield, Massachusetts, who requested that his last name be withheld.
Lee Ann Lorejo of Queens, New York, has been coming to the Center since 2016.
“My marriage was full of frustration, anger, and fighting,” said Lorejo, who met Father Aenekatt at a parish mission in Queens. “I said to Father, this message of Divine Mercy is for me.”
Lorejo attended the most recent retreat with her husband and credits the Divine Mercy Devotion and the ministry of the Center with healing their marriage. “If we don’t forgive one another, that blocks all the graces. We might be practicing our faith but, if we don’t forgive, nothing is possible.”
The Center regularly offers three-day live-in retreats, parish missions, and Saturday prayer services. First time visitors, including those not of the Catholic faith, are invited to attend the 2:30 – 5:30 p.m. Healing Prayer Service on Saturdays. The service includes a Rosary, praise and worship music, preaching, a Mass, and healing adoration.
The Center is operated by the Vincentian Congregation, a clerical society that belongs to the Eastern Rite and was founded in Kerala, India. Father Aenekatt and Assistant Director Father John Kattattu are both members of the congregation, which is comprised of an estimated 600 priests around the world, including approximately 30 priests engaging in ministry in the United States.
The former St. Joseph Church was vacant for two years before being purchased by the Vincentians. In May of 2018, Bishop Alfred Schlert of the Allentown Diocese and Bishop Mar Jacob Angadiath of the St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Catholic Diocese of Chicago, Illinois, opened the doors of the 1915 edifice to unveil it as the Divine Mercy Healing Center.
“We are particularly thankful to see this church used for a dignified, Catholic purpose,” said Bishop Schlert at the 2018 ceremony. The Bishop’s father and relatives worshipped at the former St Joseph’s Church, which served a largely German congregation.