Skip to main content

Western New York Explorer's Guide

The only comprehensive travel guide to the region

Home
About Us
Contact Us
Site Map
Member Login
About Author
Media Interviews
Testimonials
WNY Resources
WNY Attractions and More
Explore WNY blog
Upcoming events
Articles
Celebrate Black History
Naples, NY
Olean
Mayville Ice Festival
Mid winter getaways
Art and History Museums
Visit Aviation Museums
Hiking Trails
Welland Canal
Athenaeum hotel
Bemus Point
Cobblestone Trail
Niagara Pkwy part 1
Niagara Pkwy part 2
Rock Park
Clifton Springs
WNY Amish
Nature in Winter
Wine & Chocolate
Winter Wonderland
Outdoors in winter
Inside in winter
Old Fort Niagara
Power Vista
WNY Waterfalls
Corning
Dads and Cars
Artpark
Hershey
Native American
Lake Ontario Shore
Lockport Cave
Sonnenberg
Amish traditions
Day Trips Rock
Country Barn Quilt
Halloween in WNY
Fest of Lights
Chautauqua Holiday
NYC by Train
Chautauqua Wine Trail
Mayville Ice Castle
Outdoor winter fun
Chautauqua Institution
Farm Markets
Recharge at Chautauqua
Niagara Wine Trail
Local boat rides
Local beaches
Chautauqua County
Lewiston Jazz Fest
Hammondsport
Buffalo Waterfront
Pumpkin Fun
Chau Wine Trail LEL
Fall Road Trips
Off season getaways
Free attractions
Winter Fun
Spring Break
Taughannock
Winery Train
St Lawrence Seaway
Seaway Trail Journey
Welland Canal LEL
Sandusky
Cleveland
Fall Festivals
Scenic Fall Drives
Holiday Hollow
Shopping in NYC
Holiday Shopping Corning
Buffalo has Wright
Snowshoeing
Toronto
Elmira
Buffalo Religious Art
Ten must see getaways
Chautauqua and Erie
Welland Murals
The Tonawandas
Ten Hidden Places
Wing Festival
Presque Isle
Marble
Lewisburg PA
Victorian Christmas
Chocolate Trail
Fun with Grandkids
George Eastman House
National Historic Landmar
Thing for Wings
Olcott Beach
Little League Museum
Rock City
Glass Blowing
Queenston ON
Lawn Fetes
Chautauqua Co Bicentennia
Shaw Festival
Chautauqua County 2
Olcott Carousel
10 Hidden Gems
Chautauqua
Olcott Beach 2
Roycroft
Hot Dog Spots
Westfield
Canandaigua
Enjoy Presque Isle
One Tank Trips
Belhurst Castle
Shop in Lewiston
Cuba Cheese Museum
Pumpkinville 2
Snowshoe 2
Spooky Treats
Walkable Shopping
Norman Rockwell Museum
Fatima Shrine Lights
Christmas Lights
Albright Knox
Darwin Martin
Maple Weekend
Divine Mercy Shrine
Erie Canal
Rochester
Cape Cod
Cobblestone Trail 2
8 Great Fall Road Trips
Little Known Places
Buy Local
Made in America Store
Vidlers
Great Lakes Seaway Trail
Lovely Gardens
WNY Festivals
Erie PA Waterfront
Grape Discovery Center
Salt Sanctuary
Holiday Hollow 2
Historic Hull House
Buffalo Religious Arts Ce
Mall Madness
One day holiday getaways
New York City by train
Cabin Fever
Niagara on the Lake
Elmira 150th Anniversary
Carousels of WNY
Ontario Beach Park
Lockport Locks
USA Bird Supply Blog Arch
Backroads and Byways of U

National Catholic Register

April 8, 2012

 

Marian shrine in Berkshires focuses on Divine Mercy

 

            The first thing I noticed when I arrived at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Massachusetts was the peacefulness and the almost deafening silence. The shrine, which is a ministry of the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is located on Eden Hill, 350 acres in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts. Since my family and I had just traveled six hours by car from Buffalo, N.Y., the shrine offered us a much needed respite.

            The grounds of the shrine are breathtaking, with the gentle rolling Berkshire Hills in the background. There are several shrines, both indoors and outdoors, on the property. As we strolled through the grounds, our first stop was the Holy Family Shrine and St. Joseph’s Portico, which was of special interest to my youngest son, whose name happens to be Joseph. He even asked to light a candle and bowed his head in prayer; not his typical behavior. This outdoor shrine has a small reflecting pool in front of it; inside, a life-size statue of St. Joseph holds a young Jesus.

            We then walked across a huge expanse of grass to the Mother of Mercy Outdoor Shrine, which is where the liturgy takes place during the annual Divine Mercy Sunday weekend, which is celebrated the weekend after Easter. In the lower level of this shrine is the Shrine of the Holy Innocents, a memorial to all deceased children.

 

History of the shrine

            So how did this shrine come to be? Back in 1943, the Marians, a religious community originally founded in Poland in the 17th Century, were looking for a home for those preparing for the religious life. The Marians had first come to the United States in 1913.  With the help of the pastor of St. Stanislaus Kostka Church in Adams, Massachusetts, and other people, the Marians were able to purchase the site on Eden Hill. The land had a variety of uses previously, including an early Christian mission to the Native Americans, a private residence, and even an Episcopalian preparatory school for boys.

            When the Marians moved to the property, a community chapel was established, with one of the side chapels dedicated to The Divine Mercy, which is a devotion to the merciful love of God that is based on the writings of St. Faustina Kowalska. In the message of Divine Mercy, God wants us to recognize that His mercy is greater than our sins, so that we can call upon Him with trust, receive his mercy, and let it flow through us to others.

            St. Faustina Kowalska (1905-1938), was a Polish nun who had a vision and conversations with Jesus, which was later published as a book, “Diary of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska: Divine Mercy in My Soul.” In her diary, St. Faustina states that Jesus said that 3 o’clock in the afternoon, the hour that Jesus died, was the hour that mercy was best received, so that’s when she remembered the Lord in His Passion and, if possible, prayed the Stations of the Cross. Many Catholics today pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, which is a powerful intercessory prayer for mercy that Jesus gave to St. Faustina.

           

A larger chapel needed

            As an increasing number of pilgrims began visiting; a larger chapel was needed to accommodate them. In 1950, the Marians asked Stockbridge resident, Antonio Guerrieri, a well-known master furniture maker and wood carver, to oversee the construction of the chapel. Guerrieri assembled a work crew of seminarians and WWII refugees, as well as a number of local residents. He did not draw up an architectural plan or blueprints; all the plans were in his head.

            The interior of the chapel, which was dedicated in 1960, features ornate woodwork done by Guerrieri, along with 36 stained glass windows and two mosaics created by Fred Leuchs, which portray the mercy of God. Above the altar is an image of Jesus the Divine Mercy, surrounded by apostle figures carved by Ferdinando Perathones of northern Italy. The shrine was declared a National Shrine by the bishops of the United States in 1996.

            In addition to the main chapel, and the outdoor shrines previously described, there are two other shrines to visit, including the Lourdes Grotto and Immaculate Conception Shrine, an outdoor shrine built in 1997, which has three candle rooms with over 1,000 candles. Another beautiful place to pray outdoors is by the life-size Stations of the Cross, which is under construction and slated to be completed by the end of August. Indoors, the Lady of Mercy Candle Shrine at the MarianHelpersCenter is one of the largest indoor candle shrines in the United States, with more than 2,600 candles.

           

One pilgrim’s experiences

            “Out of all the beautiful places to pray on the grounds of the National Shrine of Divine Mercy, I like the chapel the best,” said Rick Paolini, who is the business manager for Holy Family Communications, The Station of the Cross, a Catholic radio station outside of Buffalo, N.Y. “It is a place where you can detach yourself of worldly concerns. I like to look at the carved statues of the apostles and contemplate on their lives and think about how it must have been to be called by Jesus to spread the Word.”

            Paolini, who has been studying the Diary of St. Faustina for 16 years, first visited the shrine with his wife, Robin, on their 35th wedding anniversary. “We were traveling to visit our son who lives in Framingham, Mass., and knew that the shrine was on the way, so we stopped to attend Mass for our anniversary.”

            The Paolini’s loved the tranquil atmosphere. “We were awestruck by the peace we felt in the natural surroundings; we looked at each other and said ‘We have to come back!”

A member of the Disciples of The Divine Mercy in the Holy Face of Jesus, a group that promotes prayers, especially the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, at the bedside of the dying, Rick Paolini has returned to the shrine at least ten times since then, including attending three-day retreats during the summer. Last year he and his wife volunteered to help with Divine Mercy Sunday Weekend, one of the shrine’s major events, and are making plans to also help out at this year’s event.

 

 

 

 

 

Divine Mercy Sunday weekend

            Close to 20,000 pilgrims, along with over 500 volunteers, flock to the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy the weekend after Easter for the annual Divine Mercy Sunday Weekend, (April 14th-15th this year.) It includes prayer services, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, confessions, and of course Mass. For over 30 years, believers from around the world have visited the shrine on Divine Mercy Sunday Weekend.

The highlight of the weekend is the solemn liturgy at 1:00 pm on Sunday, which is held in the Mother of Mercy Outdoor Shrine. The Mass, which will be televised on EWTN, is followed by the Divine Mercy Novena and Chaplet at 3:00pm, along with exposition and benediction of the Blessed Sacrament and the blessing of religious articles.

“Divine Mercy Sunday Weekend is a tremendous spiritual experience,” said Paolini. “It’s exhilarating to see the devotion all day long.” He describes the weekend as a wonderful experience and a real renewal of faith. He added, “The grace of Divine Mercy Sunday is icing on the cake!”

Last year Paolini’s day started at 6:00 am, with a Mass for the volunteers. “The day just flew by,” he exclaimed. “It was good to work with so many people who were happy to be there and to see people with such devotion to The Divine Mercy and the Blessed Virgin Mary.” He and his wife plan on making volunteering at Divine Mercy Sunday an annual event.

“When you have the opportunity to spend a weekend with people devoted to their faith, its wonderful!” He added, “Some people may be unaware of the promise of Divine Mercy Sunday; that is the promise of complete forgiveness for sins and all temporal punishment due to sins. This promise is mentioned in diary entry #699 in St. Faustina’s Diary. ”It’s like a clean slate.” He went on to say, “This promise by Jesus is available to any Catholic, anywhere in the world, who is in the state of grace and receives the Eucharist on Divine Mercy Sunday. That was promised in St. Faustina’s Diary.”

 

Divine Mercy Songs

            Father Bill Quinlivan, pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Tonawanda, N.Y., and a musician, recently recorded MercySongs, his fifth CD of original music.  It's a double CD, with ten songs inspired by St. Faustina and her Diary, and a companion CD of prayers and litanies from her writings put to music,” said Father Bill.  MercySongs is musically like my other productions; a mix of up-tempo, mid-tempo and slower, reflective songs. Much of the music I had heard that celebrated the Lord's Mercy message tended toward the slow. So I challenged myself to inject the joy and delight of Mercy into a few songs.”

            Father Bill’s formation in the works of mercy took hold in the late 1990s, when he became involved at St. Luke’s Mission of Mercy on Buffalo’s East Side, a closed Catholic parish that became a haven for the needy, abandoned and addicted.  

            “When I became pastor of Blessed Sacrament parish, I arrived at a church where the retiring pastor, Msgr. Robert Golombek, had been promoting The Divine Mercy for years. St. Faustina was already in a stained glass window, the Mercy Novena was prayed perpetually at Wednesday evening Mass. It was a great fit.”      

MercySongs includes Hidden Jesus, a poetic reflection St. Faustina wrote while in Eucharistic Adoration, as well as Rich in Mercy, written for the occasion of Pope John Paul II's Beatification last year. There's The Sound of Mercy, which incorporates Fr. Bill’s lifelong love of the Sound of Music film into the mercy ministry. The Prodigal Parade begins with a drum track that sounds like a parade, and invites the forgiven to "Come, join the Prodigal Parade!" in a joyful tune.  The most musically challenging piece was based on the Conversation of the Merciful God with a Sinful Soul. It's a rather theatrical-sounding dialogue, a duet with Mary Beth Harper, a parishioner with a beautiful soprano voice who was humble enough to accept the invitation to be the "sinful soul."

     Fr. Bill’s music is distributed internationally by DS Music (the Irish singer, Dana) and can be ordered at www.dana-music.com. You can also read more about Father Bill at www.frbillsings.com

    

If you go

National Shrine of The Divine Mercy, 2 Prospect Hill, Stockbridge, MA  01262, 413-298-3931, www.thedivinemercy.org/shrine.  The shrine is open daily, 7:00 am-5:00 pm

 

Schedules

Mass: Sunday at 10:30 am and 2:00 pm, Saturday and Holy Days at 8:00 am and 2:00 pm, weekdays at 2:00 pm.

Confession: Monday -Friday1:00-2:00 pm, Saturday and Sunday 1:00-2:00 pm and 3:30-4:15 pm.

Eucharistic Adoration: 1:00-2:00 pm daily

Rosary: 1:30 pm daily

Divine Mercy Chaplet and Benediction: 3:00 pm daily

 

The shrine’s gift shop, which is open daily 9 am-5 pm, offers a large selection of Catholic books and gifts, including St. Faustina’s diary and books on The Divine Mercy, along with prayer cards, pamphlets, crucifixes, jewelry, rosaries, music, videos, and much more.

 

 

 

Sidebar

Other things to do in Stockbridge

The town of Stockbridge, Massachusetts, is as quaint as a Norman Rockwell painting. Not a surprise, since Rockwell, a prolific artist and illustrator who lived in Stockbridge from 1953 until his death in 1978, got much of his inspiration from the people and places in this BerkshireMountains town.

Stockbridge’s

Main Street
has actually been immortalized in one of my favorite Rockwell paintings, “
Stockbridge Main Street
at Christmas,” which depicts Stockbridge as the typical rural New England town that it is. Rockwell began the illustration in the 1950’s, but didn’t finish it until the 1960’s.

Today, as one strolls through the town they can visit the buildings depicted in the painting: The Library has remained a library and the Antique Shop is a gift shop. The building that once housed one of Rockwell’s early studios is now home to Stockbridge General Store and an ice cream shop. The Williams & Son Country Store is still a country store and one of my favorite places to browse in, as they carried many unique hard-to-find items. The building that once housed the town offices is now a Yankee Candle shop and the bank is still a bank. The building that dominates the Stockbridge streetscape is the Red Lion Inn, which is one of the few American inns that has been in continuous use since the 18th century.

For more information, contact the Stockbridge Chamber of Commerce 413-298-5200, www.stockbridgechamber.com

 

One of the most popular attractions to visit in Stockbridge is the NormanRockwellMuseum, which is home to the world’s largest collection of original Rockwell art. Over 200,000 people visit the museum each year.

            Rockwell’s paintings and drawings depict American life with warmth and humor. In his lifetime Rockwell created over 4,000 works of art; 3,000 of these are published. There are nine galleries on the museum’s main level; six that house the permanent collection and three that feature changing exhibits. The centerpiece of the permanent collection is a round gallery which houses Rockwell’s iconic Four Freedoms: Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want and Freedom from Fear, which he painted during WWII to depict the home front. These paintings also appeared as covers of the Saturday Evening Post.

Norman Rockwell Museum, 9 Route 183, Stockbridge, MA 413-298-4100, www.nrm.org. Open daily 10:00 am-5:00 pm (until 4:00 pm November –April)