Published January 21, 2010
St. Philip Benizi Church will serve as the host site for the Atlanta Conference of Divine Mercy on Monday, Feb. 15. Sponsored by the Apostles of Divine Mercy, organizers of the conference hope to highlight the true meaning of the Divine Mercy feast day and also bring inactive Catholics back into the Church. All are welcome to attend.
“There is such a lack of understanding about Divine Mercy Sunday,” said Robert Allard, director of Apostles of Divine Mercy. “It is the best way to get ‘Easter-only’ and fallen-away Catholics back.”
The first Divine Mercy Conference was held last year in Orlando, Fla., but Allard said they decided to move the event to metro Atlanta in hopes of giving more people in the Southeast better access to the conference. Allard said they expect to have attendees from throughout the Southeast and beyond.
The date of the conference is the feast day for Blessed Father Michael Sopocko, who was St. Faustina’s spiritual confessor and who worked to establish the feast, and it is also a national holiday, Presidents Day. He hopes more people will have the day off and will have an opportunity to attend.
The conference will feature several speakers addressing the subject of Divine Mercy Sunday. Included on the program is Congregation of Marians of the Immaculate Conception Father Seraphim Michalenko, a world-renowned speaker on the message of Divine Mercy. The priest is director-emeritus of the John Paul II Institute of Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Mass., and also has worked on several translations of the diary of St. Faustina.
Redemptorist Father Pablo Straub, who directs missions and priest retreats and founded two religious orders, will also speak, as well as Marty Rotella, a singer songwriter, speaker and evangelist.
Allard, who cites Divine Mercy Sunday as his own reason for coming back to the Church, will also speak. He was away from the Church for 25 years before returning. He heard about Divine Mercy Sunday and the “ocean of graces” promised to those who repent. He went to confession for the first time in 28 years on the vigil of Divine Mercy Sunday and has felt the graces ever since.
“Jesus has given us this feast to save the Church,” he said. “It’s right there for us. … Souls are perishing.”
Divine Mercy Sunday is celebrated on the Sunday after Easter. This year Catholics will commemorate Divine Mercy Sunday on April 11.
Allard said that many churches are not using Divine Mercy Sunday for its true purpose, which he said is to bring inactive Catholics back to the Church. It is his goal, and the goal of the Apostles of Divine Mercy, to spread the true meaning of the feast day and share it with priests, active Catholics and those who have been separated from the Church.
“The conference is not about the devotion,” said Allard. “We will focus strictly on what the Church teaches and what is found in Scripture. … It is such a gift for the Church and for the archdiocese.”
The conference will also provide strategies for the celebration in parishes and make resources available to assist clergy in preparing for the feast.
The event will begin at 9 a.m. and is scheduled to last until 6 p.m. Mass will be celebrated at 8:30 a.m. for participants prior to the conference.
The cost is $50 per person, which must be paid before a Feb. 12 cutoff date. The attendance fee will be waived for clergy in honor of the Year for Priests, but they are asked to register ahead of time. Lunch will be provided for all participants.
Hotel accommodations are available at the Hampton Inn Southlake, 1533 Southlake Parkway, Morrow, at a special rate of $79 per night, including breakfast. To make hotel reservations for the event call (770) 968-8990 before Feb. 1 and mention the group rate for Divine Mercy.
To register for the conference go to: www.DivineMercySunday.com or call 1-888-732-0722. Seating is limited.