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 and

Videos from the conference are posted on Facebook:

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 and

Mercy Takes to the Airwaves

Following the concluding Mass of the first-ever World Apostolic Congress on Mercy (WACOM), held in Rome in April 2008, Pope Benedict XVI gave Congress delegates from around the world “a mandate” to “go forth and be witnesses of God’s mercy.”

Those words not only laid the groundwork for the upcoming North American Congress on Mercy (NACOM) in November, they became the inspiration for a book, Pope Benedict’s Divine Mercy Mandate (Marian Press), by David Came, executive editor of Marian Helper magazine. The book, released in January, has since become the field guide, of sorts, for understanding how and why mercy has become the Church’s top talking point.

Mr. Came was the guest on EWTN Radio’s “Catholic Connection,” with host Teresa Tomeo, on Friday, Oct. 25, where he discussed his book and the upcoming mercy congress.

***We invite you to listen to the interview.***

“As people know who have studied Pope Benedict’s speeches,” Mr. Came told Ms. Tomeo, “he chooses his words with great care. So to use the word ‘mandate,’ and to use such strong language about going forth and being witnesses of God’s mercy for every person and for the whole world is phenomenal.”

As Mr. Came noted, the fruits of the Holy Father’s mandate is being writ large this year and next, as continental congresses are being held around the world as a follow-up to WACOM.

On Nov. 14-15, at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., the Church will hold the first-ever North American Congress on Mercy with a specific goal of fulfilling this mercy “mandate” given to us by the Holy Father. The theme for the Congress is “Mercy: Our Hope.”

“People will be hearing inspiring witnesses,” said Mr. Came. “They will be inspired to go back and live Divine Mercy in their own parishes, prayer groups or what have you.”

The speakers will include:

• Dr. Scott Hahn, an internationally known speaker and author, who will give a talk titled “Lord Have Mercy.”
• Theresa Bonopartis, who has been involved in post-abortion work and counseling for 20 years. She will address the Congress on the topic “Where Mercy Meets Faithfulness,” touching on how God not only healed her from an abortion but also radically changed her life.
• Dr. John Bruchalski, MD, who founded the Tepeyac Family Center in Fairfax, Va., in 1994, an obstetrical and gynecological facility that combines the best of modern medicine with the healing presence of Jesus Christ — providing affordable healthcare to women, in particular, those with crisis pregnancies. In 2000, he founded Divine Mercy Care, a non-profit organization performing spiritual and corporal works of mercy in northern Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia.
• Kellie Ross, who will give a talk titled “Imitating Christ through the Image of Divine Mercy.” She is the co-founder and director of Missionaries of Our Lady of Divine Mercy in Manassas Va., which operates the House of Mercy, a thrift store that provides free clothing and new shoes as well as spiritual resources to the poor and needy.
• Sister Mary Joseph, OP, who will give a talk titled “God Be Praised for His Mercies.” She is a member of the Dominican Sisters of Hawthorne, who preach the sanctity of life by caring for incurable cancer patients in the United States and in Kenya who do not have the resources to pay for the care they need.
• Father Donald Calloway, MIC, who will speak on the topic “Mary: Mother and Masterpiece of Mercy.” A convert to Catholicism, Fr. Donald is a member of the Congregation of Marians of the Immaculate Conception.
• Father Patrice Chocholski, who will give the concluding reflection. From the Diocese of Lyon, France, Fr. Patrice is a well-known lecturer and theologian on The Divine Mercy message. Cardinal Christoph Schonborn of the Archdiocese of Vienna, Austria, commissioned him to coordinate last year’s WACOM.
• Most Rev. William Lori, STD, the Bishop of Bridgeport, Conn., and the episcopal advisor to the North American Congress on Mercy. Bishop Lori will be the principal celebrant of Holy Mass on Saturday evening.
• Father Seraphim Michalenko, MIC, who will serve as homilist for the 10 a.m. Mass on Sunday. Father Seraphim is a world-renowned expert in the message of The Divine Mercy. He served as vice-postulator for the canonization cause of St. Faustina Kowalska, whose revelations in the 1930s led to the modern Divine Mercy movement. He serves as director of the Association of Marian Helpers in Stockbridge, Mass.

Why Mercy?
Ms. Tomeo noted how since Pope Benedict was elected in 2005, he has seemed to put his “stamp of approval” on the work of his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, who was known as the “Great Mercy Pope.” In his writings and homilies, Pope John Paul II described Divine Mercy as the answer to the world’s problems. He beatified and canonized Sr. Faustina. He established Divine Mercy Sunday (the feast day associated with the message of The Divine Mercy) as a feast day for the entire Church.

Mr. Came agreed. Pope Benedict, he said, has not only solidified the Divine Mercy legacy of his predecessor, but has taken that legacy further by declaring the Mercy Congress — the first time in more than 100 years that the Church chose to emphasize a specific, vital aspect of the faith by declaring a Congress in its name.

“In his first message as our Holy Father, [Pope Benedict] spoke of having received a gift of Divine Mercy through the intercession of Pope John Paul II,” said Mr. Came in explaining why he wrote the book. “So that begged the question: Is he the next mercy Pope?

“During the three years that I studied his papacy and what he has said about Divine Mercy,” Mr. Came continued, “it became very clear to me that he is our new mercy Pope, following in the footsteps of Pope John Paul II.”

Mr. Came added that the Mercy Congress is not merely the result of Papal enthusiasm for the message of The Divine Mercy, but the result of a grassroots groundswell. Through the message of Divine Mercy, Catholics around the world have been rediscovering the core of the Gospel — that God is, first and foremost, our Merciful Father who seeks to extend mercy to us all, regardless of our sins and shortcomings. God wants us to receive His mercy and share it with others.

“So many people are convinced that their sins are unforgivable,” Ms. Tomeo said.

“As long as the heart is beating there’s a chance for repentance and conversion,” Mr. Came said.

NACOM will preceded by a Divine Mercy Networking Forum on Friday, Nov. 13, hosted by the Marians and held at the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington, D.C.

To learn more about the Mercy Congress and the Divine Mercy Networking Forum, please visit You can register for either event or both by clicking here.

Promoting Mercy and NACOM

By Dan Valenti (Aug 3, 2009)
Rick St. Hilaire isn’t your “typical” Divine Mercy devotee, if such a thing exists. Every workday as district attorney in Grafton County, N.H., the law requires that he be concerned with justice, not mercy.

As chief prosecutor and senior law enforcement official in northwestern New Hampshire, he spends his days fighting on behalf of victims of homicide, arson, sexual assaults, and other type of egregious crime.

But, again, Rick St. Hilaire isn’t your “typical” district attorney. He has a strong devotion to the message of Divine Mercy that colors his approach to enforcing the law. Justice demands punishment while mercy requires forgiveness: How do the two seeming opposites intermingle?

“Administering justice is a responsibility given to me as a prosecuting attorney,” Rick says. “While justice is rooted in jurisprudence and legal precedents, mercy is typically a function of the individuals who apply the law. That is why it might be said that justice operates under the law while mercy operates through trust.

“Saint Faustina Kowalska provides insight into the operation of mercy and how it’s distributed when she explains that trust is an essential condition to receive mercy,” he says. “So when an offender takes responsibility for committing a crime and places trust in those with authority, it is possible to attain mercy.”

To deepen his knowledge of Divine Mercy, Rick plans to attend the North American Congress on Mercy, Nov. 14-15, at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., where he first learned of Divine Mercy while in the nation’s capital as a law student. Rick sees this as part of his plan to help develop the growth of the Divine Mercy message and devotion in his parish.

With the permission of his pastor, Fr. William Kaliyadan of Sacred Heart Parish in Lebanon, Rick is organizing a bus group to make the pilgrimage to the Congress.

“So far, my volunteer work for the Congress is in organizing this parish trip,” Rick says. “Other than that, I wrote an e-mail offering to volunteer and have not been told what might need to be done. God will let me know what I’m doing, I am sure.”

Rick also says he has met with Fr. Kaliyadan about forming a Divine Mercy prayer group. His pastor has become interested in the message of God’s mercy.

“My hope is that NACOM will contribute to the revitalization of the Catholic Church in America by broadcasting the message of Divine Mercy,” he says. “This message strengthens vocations to religious life, restores broken families, promotes a culture of life, and reignites cooled faith.”

Rick hopes that by attending NACOM, he can find “a fresh approach” to experience God’s love and to share it with others “so mercy can be put into action.” He intends to do this at the local level, in his parish, where he can have the most impact.

If, like Rick, you want to put mercy into action through NACOM, visit

Be a part of the discussion. Add a comment now!

Joesph – Aug 9, 2009

The important of what Rick is doing is provising an example of the integration of one’s work (and daily life) and living a spiritual life. All of a person’s life IS spiritual. His work speaks for itself, as does his intentions for the North American Congress on MErcy. In thankfulness, blessing, joy, peace, love, and gratitude for sharing his story.

Marietta Po – Aug 7, 2009

im thankful for the divine mercy message w/c ive read frm rick i pray n cont reading yhanking God of rick’s faith.

Randall – Aug 6, 2009

This dilemma has often puzzled me, tha balance between justice and mercy. This article helps explain it as best as I have ever read. Thank God for men like Rick, who live their faith, which is what we all need to do, regardless of our occupations in life.

Liffy – Aug 4, 2009

Wonderful story of a man who puts his faith into action. I wish Rick all the best and will keep him in my prayers.

EFI, Vandergrift, – Aug 4, 2009

Rick will succeed! From several states away, I can feel his energy and Trust, and pray that more of us will become committed to The Divine Mercy.