By Dan Valenti (Sep 11, 2008)
The 2009 North American Congress on Mercy will take “Mercy: Our Hope” as its theme. The gathering is set for Nov. 14-15 in Washington, D.C.
Planning began in June and will continue for the next several months. Though the lineup of events and speakers has yet to be finalized, the executive board identified its theme early to provide an overall direction.
The Congress will be conducted at the National Basilica of the Immaculate Conception at 400 Michigan Ave. NE and the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center at 3900 Harewood Rd. NE. Planners may also make use of Catholic University of America at 620 Michigan Ave. The venues have strong Catholic identities and are located within walking distance of each other.
‘A Kind of North Star’
“The theme of ‘Mercy: Our Hope,’ will orient this important event,” says Fr. Matthew Mauriello, Congress coordinator president. “It will serve as a kind of ‘North star’ in pointing our plans to emphasize hope as an offshoot of mercy. The relationship between mercy and hope will be explored and shown in action during this great meeting.”
Continental Congresses are being held around the world in 2009 and 2010 as a follow-up to the World Apostolic Congress on Mercy held in Rome in April.
“The focus will be on expanding the message of mercy and love,” says Fr. Kazimierz Chwalek, MIC, Marian director of evangelization and development and Congress vice president. “We want to let others know that while a significant part of this message is St. Faustina’s devotion, mercy isn’t tied to any particular saint. Divine Mercy itself, as revealed by Jesus to St. Faustina, should be the focus.”
An Emphasis on Action
Father Seraphim Michalenko, MIC, director of the Marian Helpers Association, says action will be a key Congressional component: “We are made by a loving God to receive His mercy, but we must also extend that mercy to others. Mercy is something you live and do.”
A goal of the Congress, reflected in its sub-theme of “Learn Mercy, Love Mercy, Live Mercy,” will be to develop the motif of “mercy in action.” Ecumenism and interfaith dialogue are expected to provide other themes. An ecumenical and inter-religious gathering is tentatively planned for Friday, Nov. 13, before the Congress opens.
The Congress will examine mercy from three perspectives: scriptural, sacramental/liturgical, and spiritual/social.
Answers and Questions
“This Congress will re-focus and re-energize people’s spirit for God’s mercy,” says Fr. Matthew. “We will ask as well as answer. We will ask, ‘How can we learn to live in God’s mercy? How can we bring mercy into our specific parishes and individual lives? How can we motivate Catholics to engage in personal ministries to receive and give mercy?'”
As a follow-up to the North American Congress, diocesan and regional events will continue through 2010. Parishes will also be encouraged to sponsor mercy events.
For more information, contact Peter Markavage at the Marian Helpers Center toll-free at 1-800-462-7426 or by e-mail at [email protected].
Dan Valenti writes for numerous publications of the Marians of the Immaculate Conception, both in print and online. He is the author of “Dan Valenti’s Journal’ at thedivinemercy.org.