Bronx Divine Mercy Conference - 2017

The 2017 Bronx Divine Mercy Conference "The Message of Fatima and Divine Mercy: Refuge for Sinners," held at Cardinal Spellman High School in Bronx, New York, welcomed more than 600 pilgrims from the New York and New England areas, as well as a special guest - the UN Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima.

Cosponsored by the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception and the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, the 12th annual conference bridged the gap between the Jubilee Year of Mercy, which concluded on Nov. 20, 2016, the Solemnity of Christ the King, and the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of the Rosary at Fatima, Portugal, drawing out the connections between the message of Divine Mercy and Our Lady's calls at Fatima.

"Of course the Fatima message was from the early part of the last century and so was Divine Mercy," explained noted author and EWTN host Fr. Andrew Apostoli, CFR, the featured speaker at the Conference. "Both of them give us some spiritual approaches to work for world peace. At Fatima, Our Lady said to pray for the conversion of sinners so that peace could come into the world, the Rosary and so on. And Divine Mercy, of course - Jesus wants every soul to come to His mercy. In particular, pray for the conversion of those who are on the wrong path, but also, pray for those who are perhaps plagued by despair over their own past sins. Despair is the thing that brings the most grief to His Heart. He said that's what caused Him the greatest pain in His agony in the garden."

Here's part 1 of Fr. Apostoli's talk:

Here's part 2:

And the speakers throughout the day aimed to counter despair with hope. Father Apostoli shared the calls of Our Lady of Fatima, laying out the path to peace in the world through repentance, reparation, and prayer. "We need peace," said Fr. Andrew. Speaking of the world situation today, Fr. Apostoli said, "This whole thing could explode the world. We need to go to the Queen."

And we have two key tasks in particular, Fr. Andrew emphasized, given us by Our Lady at Fatima: praying the Rosary daily with the intention of peace in the world, and making the First Saturdays devotion. "Sister Lucia said that [the First Saturdays] is the most neglected part of the of the entire Fatima message," said Fr. Apostoli, author of Fatima for Today: The Urgent Marian Message of Hope.

Monsignor James Lisante, a Catholic commentator on TV and radio, as well as the pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Massapequa Park, New York, spoke of the vital importance of challenging ourselves to be open to Jesus present in the people and their needs around us. "Our focus on mercy is most effective when it's based on empathy," he explained. "Divine Mercy is always a matter of the heart." We live mercy most effectively when we unite brain and heart in order to act, to perform the works of mercy and live love of neighbor. And we are best prepared to live mercy, the monsignor said, when we've received mercy through the Sacrament of Confession.

And Fr. Chris Alar, MIC, director of the Association of Marian Helpers, explained why. "As St. Therese said, 'Saints are simply sinners that keep on trying.'" An indispensable part of continuing to try to live a holy life is to trust in Jesus' promises and the power of the Sacraments, especially the Sacrament of Confession. "You are guaranteed forgiveness" in the course of a valid Confession, explained Fr. Chris, "or Jesus is a liar. Heaven has to honor the priest - Christ set it up that way" (see Jn 20:21-23).

In the afternoon, Bobby Schindler, Jr., the brother of euthanasia victim Terry Schindler-Schiavo, shared with attentees the details of his sister's case and laid out the encroachment of the culture of death in medical care and elder care today, calling them on to awareness and activism in defense of some of the most vulnerable. He was followed by Fr. Giuseppe Maria Siniscalchi, CFR, who gave a rousing summons to repentance, to trust, and the live the spirituality of the Cross.

Here is Fr. Giuseppe's talk:

Later, attendees had the chance to quiz the Very Rev. Fr. Kazimierz Chwalek, MIC, provincial superior of the Marian Fathers in the United States and Argentina; Fr. Seraphim Michalenko, MIC; the Very Rev. Fr. Joe Roesch, MIC; and Fr. Chris Alar, MIC, on Catholic devotion to Mary, the ways in which God forgives us through the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick even after they're unresponsive, and more.

View the Q&A:

The UN Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima stood on the other side of the conference hall stage from the Divine Mercy Image throughout the day, allowing all the conferencegoers a chance to venerate it and pray for Our Lady's intercession. Its custodian, Judy Studer, the president of the Rhode Island Division of the World Apostolate of Fatima, explained the statue's history in the morning at the conference, and shared with participants some exciting news: On May 12, that same statue will be returning to the United Nations headquarters in New York City to be present at a conference, organized by the Holy See's Permanent Observer Mission and the Portuguese Mission to the UN.

Confession was offered throughout the day, and the Eucharistic Lord awaited conference-goers in the chapel. Between talks, brothers Marty and Jules Rotella led the conference goers in praise and worship, fostering an atmosphere of prayer throughout the day. Among the volunteers assisting at the conference were 18 Sisters of Life and four CFR nuns, as well as a number of laypeople, and about 20 priests in attendance. The whole conference joined together in the Chaplet of Divine Mercy at 3 p.m., and closed out the conference with Mass, celebrated by Fr. Joe Roesch, and served by St. Michael's Guard, a group of men committed to providing the highest level of precision, discipline, and reverence serving at the altar faithfully every day.

And the faithful felt well served by the conference. James Kusel, a parishioner at St. Andrew Avellino in Flushing, New York, said, "It gives me things to think about. it's very nice to come to the conference. I came last year and I'm here again this year. There was so much to process. It was very, very profound."

Lori Dreyer, a parishioner at St. John Nepomucene in Bohemia, New York, was back for her third year in a row. "They have wonderful speakers here today," she said. "The message is always uplifting, it's always encouraging, and it's always filled with love."

And it's all thanks to the "unseen hand," whom Msgr. Lisante paid tribute to from the stage: Ed Miller, the conference organizer, a longtime friend of the Marian Fathers and apostle of Divine Mercy.

"The speakers that Ed Miller has put together over the years are phenomenal," said Fr. Chris Alar, "from Scott Hahn to Fr. Groeschel to Fr. Apostoli to George Weigel to Mike Gaitley, these speakers are the best of the best, and so this conference is a top of the line conference. A conference like this helps invigorate the faithful. From here the sparks of mercy and of faith spread out to touch countless others."

To order the conference DVDs (Price $30 plus postage and handling; Product code BDVD17), call 1-800-462-7426.


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