| Divine Mercy 2015 Regional North American Congress
"Jesus, I trust in you," Divine Mercy art at the cathedral entrance.
Priests from the Marians of the Immaculate Conception process after the Mass.
Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, meets with congress attendees after Mass.
ALL: ALBERT C. PACCIORINI/THE CATHOLIC VOICE
'Fullness of the Faith'
"I know many graces will come to you for your participation in the congress," Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, told attendees at the opening Mass of the 2015 Regional North American Congress on Mercy on April 24. "Thank you for being apostles of Divine Mercy," he said, adding that more people will come to know Christ's mercy through the group's efforts.
The Devine Mercy is a devotion to the endless merciful love of God, developed after apparitions of Jesus to St. Faustina Kowalska almost 100 years ago.
The regional event, Fullness of the Faith, hosted by the Diocese of Oakland, Bishop Barber and the Marians of the Immaculate Conception, offered workshops, talks by leading religious thinkers, Mass, Confession, Eucharistic adoration and Benediction, recitation of the Rosary and of the Divine Mercy Chaplet.
In his homily, Bishop Barber explained the meaning of mercy.
Saul of Tarsus, who became St. Paul the apostle, was among many persecutors of Christians, unto this day.
Learn from the experience of St. Paul, the bishop said. St. Paul was traveling, persecuting Christians, when he was struck from his horse and blinded by the light of Christ, causing his conversion. When Christ asks Saul, "Why do you persecute me?" it is as a merciful mother asking a child.
"Mercy is undeserved. That's why it's mercy," Bishop Barber said. "The Lord doesn't wait for repentance; he offers mercy right away."
Furthermore, "The Lord says the greater the sinner, the greater the forgiveness," the bishop said.
He offered the example of Bernard Nathanson, a physician who performed 75,000 abortions and led the movement to legalize abortions.
"Yet Dr. Nathanson heard the same words the Lord said to Saul of Tarsus," Bishop Barber said. Though Nathanson was an atheist, he was baptized a Catholic in 1966.
When asked why he chose Catholicism, Nathanson said no religion matches the special role of forgiveness given by the Catholic Church.
"God does not give up on anybody," the bishop said. "We should not give up on anybody."
The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the sacraments both confer mercy.
"By prayer, you become appliers of Divine Mercy," Bishop Barber said. "You become the instruments and vessels of Divine Mercy."
The bishop asked the congregation for special prayers for two purposes.
First, he asked for prayers for San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone, former bishop of Oakland, who is undergoing "unconscionable" attacks for upholding Catholic teaching.
"Strike the shepherd and the sheep are scattered," the bishop said. "An attack on him is an attack on all of us."
Secondly, he asked for prayers for a Salesian College Preparatory student, one of 50 people the bishop confirmed at St. Patrick Parish in Rodeo. "Pray for a miracle to give him the strength to endure the cross he's bearing," the bishop asked.
More than 250 people attended the three-day Congress of Mercy through April 26 at the Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland.
Rev. Carl Arcosa, Divine Mercy coordinator for the Oakland diocese and parochial administrator at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Pittsburg, said the Oakland event had been expanded from one day to three, as a preparation for a larger event planned for October 2016 in the Diocese of Orange. For more information, www.divinemercyoakland.org.
— Albert C. Pacciorini
The choir from St. Anne Parish in Union City sang at the Friday Mass.
About 250 people attended the three-day congress.
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