Editor's Note: This letter about the Divine Mercy image is dated last month but resent to us today. We are posting it in full.
The image of the Divine Mercy can be seen above parishioners at St. Stan's in this file photo.
Published facts have now established that the first Divine Mercy Image displayed publicly anywhere in the Western Hemisphere remains at St. Stanislaus Koska Church in Adams. The Rev. Seraphim Michalenko, MIC, in a recent "Marian Helper" feature, outlines the history of the first two "just-painted" images that were placed at St. Stanislaus Koska Church and rectory in the early 1940s. At least one of them never left!
In the Winter 2010-11 Edition of the Marian Helper Magazine, in an article called "At the Epicenter for St. Faustina" by Felix Carroll, it traces the journey of Faustina's writings to the States, and decisions by the Congregation of Marians of the Immaculate Conception to place priority on spreading the Divine Mercy Message. Father Seraphim describes how he was involved in the translation of writings by Sister Faustina, a Polish nun who had died in 1938.
The Parish Church of St. Stanislaus Koska in Adams had become the first location of any Divine Mercy Image to be displayed in any church in the Western Hemisphere. There had been a painting done and displayed in a Convent in Michigan, but this was the first public location.
The Divine Mercy Devotion has had a fascinating history, and is now more relevant than ever. One can argue that Divine Providence placed St. Faustina in Poland, the Polish Catholics in Adams and Fr. Seraphim in the middle as the Divine Mercy devotion has spread. As the devotion was gaining steam, it was banned for a time as mere "private revelation." The image never left its place of honor in St. Stan's.
Pope John Paul II, then a cardinal in Poland, allowed the devotion and writings of Faustina to be more fully studied and disseminated. As Pope, he then elevated Faustina to "Blessed" and then to "Saint Faustina" in 2000, also declaring the Second Sunday of Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday that year. (This writer, former Methodist, organist at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge in 2000, converted to Catholicism, taking the confirmation name "Faustus." With Brother Ken Galisa, MIC, as my sponsor, this has been one of my greatest and most life-changing decisions. My Confirmation was at the Easter Vigil and Faustina was made St. Faustina on Divine Mercy Sunday 2000.)
All this time, from the early 1940s to now, two images have hung in St. Stan's in Adams, one in the church and one in the rectory. (The rectory image has not been confirmed as of this writing.) Presently, St. Stan's parishioners are involved in a vigil to keep the building open after it was closed as a parish, and Christmas Day 2010 will mark 730 days. This image, its presence and its meaning, can be the focus of reconciliation between the parishioners and the local diocesan bishop as no doubt many people from far and wide, learning about this, will want to come, see and venerate this image. As difficult as the church closing has been for parishioners of St. Stan's, and although they may never again be a Parish, this may be the time when this treasure moves into a larger and more universal mission, which can sustain the location as a religious, cultural and historic landmark.
St. Faustina was born in 1905 and lived to 1938. St. Stan's cornerstone was laid in 1904 and was dedicated in 1906. Adams Polish Catholics who were members of the Marians, stationed in their house in D.C., met with Polish priests who were bringing Faustina's writings about the Divine Mercy and image to the United States. New copies of the image were painted. The legend has been that the images went to Adams for safekeeping while the shrine was built in Stockbridge, where many believe the image was then enshrined. The truth is that the images never left St. Stan's.
Please take the time to read the Winter Marian Helper Magazine, Vol. 65, No. 4 for more information. Or look up the Marian website www.marian.org. Then go to Adams, and experience St. Stan's. Then, return and bring friends. It's pretty amazing. Please go soon, and spread this message to any who would be interested. The vigil in Adams has taken a lot out of the participants, and this would be a great help to them to let this fact be more widely known. Please make this your New Year's Resolution!
Suffice it to say that Christ was born into the world to save the human race. He came back and spoke to St. Faustina, during the dark days of the World Wars in Europe and asked her to spread the message of His Mercy. She faithfully recorded what he told her to record, and her writings have been published as her diary, "Divine Mercy In My Soul." She wondered how she could spread such a message worldwide, and trusted God to help her to make this happen. WE are the instruments of this mission!
This newly documented set of facts can also draw visitors to this absolutely beautiful church, described as a "gem" of the Berkshires. My opinion is that it is God's plan to use St. Stan's as the jewel box, with the DM tmage as its central treasure. This can also help the local economy, and give peace to all those who have worked so tirelessly to save this place. Not just the building; but the Polish Catholic legacy in Adams.
May God have mercy on all of us, and may this Divine Mercy Image of our Lord bring all souls to see a larger design that can make this one of the most treasured historic and cultural landmarks in New England.
Please take the time to support the St. Stan's vigil team and visit the first Divine Mercy Image in the Western Hemisphere. Visit, sit quietly, contemplate, and then take Christ to the World with Divine Mercy in your hearts. Sign the Guest Book "Came to See Image." But, please do it SOON!
May the spread of The Divine Mercy Message and Image be our Mission for 2011! This has been described as "one of the greatest grassroots movements in Church History." Let's make history here in Adams! Consider yourself "called."
Jeffrey William Faustus Hunt
Jan. 6, 2011