At long last, WACOM5 is here!

WACOM5, May 20-26, under the theme, “Divine Mercy: The Ocean of Love that Envelops the Whole World,” will be a blessing for Samoa, for the attendees, and for the whole Church. For the latest news, visit wacom5samoa2023.com and MercyCongress.org.

Videos from the conference are posted on Facebook: www.facebook.com/catholicmediasamoa

Local coverage from the Samoa Observer.

The Very Rev. Chris Alar, MIC, addresses the World Apostolic Congress on Mercy on May 23.

By Chris Sparks

Practicing and promoting the Divine Mercy message and devotion can be one of the hardest apostolates in the Church’s life. Why? Because the devil hates it, and it shows.

Ask anyone who’s been at this work for years, and you’ll hear stories of crosses borne only through the power of prayer; the importance of regular Confession and the Holy Eucharist to sustain you through seemingly impossible challenges; the intercession of St. Faustina or St. John Paul II changing walls into doors, and other stories that sound like they come from the lives of the saints, or accounts of exorcism. This work is not easy, nor is it without crosses to bear.

At the same time, it’s one of the greatest gifts from God in the world. Stories of miracles and graces received from the people you work with in this line of apostolate abound. Divine Mercy does incredible things in the hearts and lives of the people it reaches, and that’s why we keep at it. The Lord’s promises prove themselves to be true again and again, through the ABCs and through FINCH.

Gathering is important
The graces and the crosses — those are why it’s important that we gather together at the world, national, and regional congresses on mercy. 

“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Mt 18:20).

We need to strengthen the brethren, and be strengthened by each other. We need to love and serve our neighbors, especially those undertaking this great work of Divine Mercy.

That’s why it was such a hardship when the 2020 World Apostolic Congress on Mercy (WACOM 5) was postponed due to the pandemic.

We had hoped it might be held the year after, or the year after that, but only now will WACOM5 take place — sadly, in the wake of tragedy for its hosts.

Sad news in Samoa
The much-delayed and long anticipated fifth WACOM will be held in Apia, Samoa, from May 20-26, 2023. That’s the good news.

The hard, sad news is that the host of WACOM 5, the Most Rev. Alapati Lui Mataeliga, Archbishop of Samoa-Apia and ecclesiastical superior of the Mission sui iuris of Tokelau, passed away at age 70 on April 25, 2023.

Dr. Bryan Thatcher, founder of the Marian Fathers’ apostolate Eucharistic Apostles of The Divine Mercy, is one of those grieving the death of the Archbishop.

“I first met Fr. Alapati when he was a priest in the diocese there and was appointed spiritual director of all the EADM groups in Samoa by then-Archbishop Pio,” said Dr. Thatcher. “He loved the message of Divine Mercy and Our Blessed Mother, and helped the people better understand God’s great mercy and the gift of the Eucharist. 

“After Archbishop Pio died, to my surprise and joy I heard that Fr. Alapati had been appointed the new archbishop! I traveled three times to Samoa; the last for the Oceania Congress on Divine Mercy. Archbishop Alapati asked me to speak, and he was always so kind and accommodating to me. He was a man of great faith and a leader of his flock.”

Please say a prayer for the repose of Archbishop Alapati’s soul.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

A time of grace
Even in the wake of such a tragic loss, WACOM will be a blessing for Samoa, for the attendees, and for the whole Church. WACOM is always a time of grace.

WACOM I in Rome was the first, and concluded with Pope Benedict XVI issuing a Divine Mercy mandate to the folks who’d attended, and to the entire Church. WACOM II in Krakow brought many of the most fervent promoters of Divine Mercy in the world back to where it all began, the final resting place of St. Faustina and the diocese from which the work of Cardinal Karol Wojtyla had paved the way for Sr. Faustina’s cause for canonization to be opened, the Diary published, and a spark to emerge from Poland to prepare the world for the final coming of the Lord (see Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, 1732). 

Then WACOM III went to Colombia, traveling from Europe to the New World, bringing Divine Mercy in a special way to a country so long torn by violence and so badly needing the medicine of mercy.

That was the first WACOM to take place after my hiring by the Marian Fathers, and I was sent to cover it. So I remember the light in Colombia, and the roses, fresh every day, on the stages and at the center of the conference halls at WACOM 3. I remember the shock of recognition of the tremendous blessing we’d been given when I ventured down to the place of prayer set up below the main conference hall and saw the many, many relics of the saints that had been there the whole time. I remember the incredible witnesses to mercy, the testimonies of conversion, of works of mercy given or received, and the beautiful theology shared. I remember the Masses, celebrated with the utmost love of God and neighbor.

WACOM 4 went to Manila in the Philippines, and drew such a crowd, the capital was full to bursting. As you may expect, given how Filipinos the world over love and spread Divine Mercy, that was the largest of all the WACOMs so far.

Heavenly fire
And now the Church sends the World Apostolic Congress to Samoa, under the theme, “Divine Mercy: The Ocean of Love that Envelops the Whole World.” Representing the Marians from our province will be the Very Rev. Chris Alar, MIC, and Fr. Kaz Chwalek, MIC, among Marian priests from other parts of the world.

What graces might we see in Samoa? What unexpected fire might fall from Heaven?

No matter what, the brethren will be strengthened. We are meant to do our apostolic work and labor in the vineyard together, united in Christ.

Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken 
(Eccles 4:12).

Let us join with our brethren at WACOM, as well as at the national and regional congresses, and be strengthened by our bonds of communion in Christ the Lord by the power of the Holy Spirit, according to the will of the Father, to practice the Divine Mercy message and devotion, and spread it to every last corner of the earth.

For the latest news, visit wacom5samoa2023.com and MercyCongress.org.