Divine Mercy Center reopens for prayer, service to community

Archbishop blesses new location in Clinton Township

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Catherine Lanni, founder of the Divine Mercy Center, said the idea for the center, which focuses specifically on ministries of prayer, came as a way to thank God for her own healing several years ago.

Clinton Township — Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron, in his homily at the Dec. 8 opening Mass for the new Divine Mercy Center in Clinton Township, said the world needs to be changed and converted, and that this can happen through the message of Divine Mercy.

The Divine Mercy Center, which is run by a lay association, the Servants of Jesus of the Divine Mercy, was formerly in Eastpointe, but after outgrowing its old location found a new home in the former St. Claude Church.

“What Advent is about is what this center should be about,” said Archbishop Vigneron, referring to the readings for the Second Sunday of Advent.

“The very shape of Advent is spoken about by John the Baptist in the first reading and the first lines of the Gospel today, where we heard John say ‘repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand,’” he added. “And in St. Mark’s Gospel, it is almost the same thing that Jesus says as he inaugurates his ministry: ‘the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the Gospel.’”

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A statue of Jesus, the Divine Mercy, outside the new Divine Mercy Center in Clinton Township.

He said the moral change preached by John and Jesus is “not for its own sake,” instead, it is with a view “to something higher,” that one must repent “for the sake of the kingdom.”

The Servants of Jesus of the Divine Mercy were founded in 2003 by Catherine Lanni and established by Cardinal Adam J. Maida that Easter Sunday. The original Divine Mercy Center opened in March 2006.

The Servants pledge to live out specific spiritual practices, including daily recitation of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, contemplating the Passion of Christ during the 3 p.m. hour, and sharing the message of Christ’s mercy through words, deeds and prayer.

The Mass also included a special consecration to the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary and the archbishop’s blessing over prayer ministers and home intercessors, which are specific roles within the Servants.

Following the consecration prayer, the prayer ministers and home intercessors placed red and white roses before the altar.

Speaking at the end of Mass, Lanni thanked those filling the center’s crowded chapel for their support in reconstructing and planning out the new location.

“When you are in the storm, it’s so difficult sometimes to see outside of that storm — we almost feel buried,” she said.

Lanni shared a story about how she was healed through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1986, nearly dying after giving birth to her youngest daughter. After her recovery, Lanni promised she would do something for God in return, and its result was the beginning of the Servants of Jesus of the Divine Mercy.

“On my deathbed, when all of the doctors were saying there was no hope … I refused to believe that,” she said. “I wanted to implore Our Lady for healing, to go to the Lord for healing. To ask him just that I may live to raise my family. And she did that, she heard my prayer.”

The new center plans to be open from Monday to Friday every week, with noon and 3 p.m. daily prayer times; a Eucharistic miracle exhibit; a religious gift shop; and Wednesday 10:30 a.m. Mass, prayer and community lunch. The center is not a parish, and so does not provide Sunday Mass.

Grace Zielinski, a prayer minister of the Servants of Jesus of the Divine Mercy, said she has been a member since the early days of the Servants.

“I have been involved since 1994,” she said. “It’s been such a spiritual journey.”

Another prayer minister, Ralph Ziolkowki, said that “the Divine Mercy is the real deal.”

“We are so blessed to have the center in our community,” he added. “Catherine and the archbishop have really helped us on our way.”