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Gardner parish hosts Divine Mercy service

Posted By May 1, 2014 | 12:41 pm | Lead Story #2
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By Patricia O’Connell
CFP Correspondent

GARDNER – Helen Gemborys, if she were alive, would have been “ecstatic” that Pope John Paul II had been canonized, and that this event was celebrated in her parish, noted her son, Eugene Gemborys, who attended last weekend’s Divine Mercy celebration with his wife, Eva.
The elder Mrs. Gemborys had immigrated from Poland and settled in the Pleasant Street neighborhood, once home to many of her countrymen.
There, she raised 15 children – 10 boys and five girls. Mr. Gemborys said his mother was especially devout. Naturally, she would have enjoyed the entire event, which was a combination Divine Mercy Sunday devotion, as well as a day to mark the canonizations of Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII, which happened just hours earlier in Rome.
In addition, last Sunday’s prayer service at St. Joseph was also the last leg in an annual Lenten pilgrimage that takes place in the Gardner/Athol Deanery XI, in which participants make weekly visits to each of the area parishes for prayer, reflection and eucharistic adoration.
Mr. Gemborys, a parishioner of Sacred Heart in Gardner, who grew up in St. Jospeh Parish and still attends daily Mass there, said the parish has held a Divine Mercy celebration ever since the year 2000, when then Pope John Paul II proclaimed it as a feast day in the universal Church.
This relatively new devotion is based upon the writings of Saint Faustina Kowalska, a Polish nun who died in 1938. She was canonized the same day Divine Mercy was officially established as a feast.
Divine Mercy Sunday, always the first Sunday after Easter, is now observed throughout the world. Catholics who receive holy Communion and the sacrament of reconciliation, can obtain a plenary indulgence under the usual circumstances, if they also pray for the intentions of the Holy Father, do an act of mercy and venerate the now-familiar Divine Mercy image that shows the Risen Lord with rays of light coming from his body.
Saint Joseph, last weekend, was filled with pilgrims who came to celebrate Divine Mercy. This celebration was led by pastor Father Thomas M. Tokarz and a number of the other priests and deacons from the deanery.
Father Tokarz opened his homily by noting that 14 years ago Pope John Paul II, “now Saint John Paul II,” established the Divine Mercy feast.
“It’s a wonderful feast” because it reveals the mercy of God, he said.
“Jesus, because of who he is, he has that love, he has that mercy given to us,” Father Tokarz added.
Reflecting upon the Gospel reading, of Thomas who doubted that Jesus had risen, Father Tokarz said we all, at times, can be a little like Thomas. “There’s always one in the group,” he noted, “There’s always one that has doubts. We’re all Thomases at one time or another. Until we see it, we don’t believe.”
Father Tokarz said Thomas doubted for a week after Jesus rose from the dead. The second week, he noted, Jesus stood in his midst and said, “Peace be with you.”
Then, Father Tokarz spoke about the events that had happened in Rome, earlier in the day, and how we were all able to witness how two popes of recent memory were elevated to sainthood.
“Miracles happen for a reason, for a reason, so that we can believe,” he noted. “You know we need saints and this is the living example that shows us and tells us the Church is alive, the Church is for real. … Divine Mercy Sunday is for real.”
He also urged the faithful to pray to these two new saints and to “open your hearts to them.”