Culture of Life
BY Joseph Pronechen
Register Staff Writer
April 24-May 7, 2011 Issue | Posted 4/15/11 at 3:37 PM
The Eucharistic Apostles of the Divine Mercy has come a long way since 1996, when Dr. Brian Thatcher gave up his medical practice to found it.
Before that, he was a well-to-do physician whose conversion started at the Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine in Mexico City. But after that experience he learned and took to heart the message of Divine Mercy.
In 1998, the EADM officially became a lay-outreach ministry of the Marians of the Immaculate Conception in Stockbridge, Mass., where the congregation oversees the National Shrine of the Divine Mercy.
“The work continues. We’re as busy as ever,” Thatcher says from EADM’s office in Riverview, Fla., near Tampa.
In 2004, to help people understand and live the messages Jesus gave St. Faustina Kowalska, he started Divine Mercy cenacles, groups of people who meet regularly for prayer, song and discussion using Scripture, the Catechism and the Diary of St. Faustina. EADM even has a manual to facilitate the discussion for spiritual growth. Performing works of mercy is also part of the apostolate.
Thatcher also brought the message of Divine Mercy far and wide through the 26 shows on Divine Mercy he did with Divine Mercy experts for EWTN.
The result? “Our prayer groups are growing all over the world,” Thatcher explains. Several thousand cenacles of the Eucharistic Apostles of Divine Mercy are now in 35 countries worldwide, including many in Africa. Lesotho and Zimbabwe are some of the newest chapters. There are also Togo, Samoa, the Philippines and New Zealand.
“We have over 650 chapels worldwide to pray the chaplet for the sick and dying,” Thatcher says. “We do that exactly 24 hours a day.”
In 1999, John Paul II recognized this apostolate’s work and personally sent a signed apostolic blessing for those who pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy for the sick and dying during their Eucharistic adoration hour.
John Paul also signed two more apostolic blessings for the EADM. The first was in 1998 for those active in the mission and those who support the work. Then, in 2003, he signed a blessing for people who pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet for pro-life causes.
“We gladly send out copies of this blessing to pro-life groups to help us spread the message of Divine Mercy and to churches and chapels who pray the chaplet for pro-life causes,” says Thatcher. “When the founder of the Marians [Father Stanislaus Papczynski] was beatified through a pro-life miracle, I realized that’s why I received the pro-life blessing four years earlier. We must continue the work.”
The EADM also performs the corporal works of mercy.
“What touches me most, even in my own walk,” Thatcher observes, “is the realization that the Divine Mercy message has beautiful components of the devotional aspects, and it really is a way of life. The Lord showed Faustina we need to become his hands and feet. We need to incorporate the message in our hearts and then radiate those rays of mercy to the world that hurts. We need to love people. They need to look at us and see we have something they want.”
The mission’s works of mercy have included shipping containers of donated medical supplies and relief items valued over $25 million to the poor in many countries, including Rwanda, Nigeria, Ecuador, Peru, the Philippines and India.
The current focus is on the Philippines, where Thatcher plans to construct a medical and dental clinic at the site of a very large Divine Mercy shrine on the island of Mindanao in the town of El Salvador. Thatcher explains: “The clinic will complement the spiritual works of mercy being done to alleviate the suffering of the poor there.”
EADM cenacles are also becoming models of the mother mission.
Mary Ann Maldonado started the cenacle at St. Gregory the Great Catholic Church in San Antonio, Texas, which now has 46 members in its third year. In addition to praying for the sick and dying and adoration, members participate in various pro-life events, from Life Chain to 40 Days for Life.
“We have a senior center we thoroughly clean from top to bottom once every three months,” says Maldonado. The group takes donations for Masses for deceased family members and collects donations to help blind children and the homeless.
The spiritual fuels the corporal. “We’ve all come to agreement how we’ve grown spiritually,” Maldonado explains.
Stephanie McClain is part of the cenacle at St. Stephen Church in Valrico, Fla. Only 18 months old, the cenacle has a 17-member roster and meets weekly.
“We pray for the sick and dying at our meetings and pray the chaplet on Wednesday nights as individuals,” says McClain.
The cenacle’s extensive prayer list includes intentions for an end to abortion, for the sick and dying, as well as those in need.
Last Advent, the Lord inspired them to pray the chaplet for their diocesan seminarians and write each a letter to say they supported the young men through prayer.
When the seminarians wrote back appreciative of the prayers, McClain says: “It was amazing to see what an impact our group made through prayer.”
When the group brought 1,000 brochures on the Divine Mercy Chaplet in Spanish for a poor area by Tampa, “A 10-year-old boy there said, ‘Of all the things you brought us, this is the best gift.’”
“A lot of us have seen the most growth in being open and trusting of Our Lord,” McClain recounts. “We ask God to increase mercy in us. People in our group have seen family away from confession for decades come back, and non-Catholic spouses have come to RCIA.”
Says Thatcher, “It’s time to live the message. The world is so broken and in need of Divine Mercy. We as Christians need now to let those rays coming from his pierced heart melt our hearts and radiate out to our children, spouses, families. Joy is contagious. I think that’s what the Holy Father had.
“I see as I travel that the people who strive to live the message of Divine Mercy have that peace that surpasses all understanding.”
Register staff writer Joseph Pronechen is based in Trumbull, Connecticut.
To start a cenacle or for more information, visit TheDivineMercy.org/eadm or call (877) 380-0727.
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