Thanks to St Gerard’s Catholic Church in Bellshill, Lanarkshire, for arranging today’s Divine Mercy retreat, led by Allan Canning, who is pictured above.

Following Mass, the participants gathered in the Church hall for tea, before the opening sessions of the retreat. Beginning with a brief video film of Archbishop Fulton J Sheen praying to the Blessed Virgin, the morning then focussed on a video presentation of Sister Caterina, a member of Saint Fauna’s congregation, the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy; she was speaking a few years ago at a conference in Australia on the Divine Mercy. Sr Caterina spoke of the Divine Mercy message, it’s relevance to our day, our need – and the need of the world – for that mercy, and how we respond to it. Here, she spoke about various aspects of the Divine Mercy devotion; the Feast, the Image, the Chaplet, the 3 O’Clock prayer time, and our need to be apostles of mercy.

After lunch, the main session looked at the story of Maureen Digan – she was granted a miraculous healing from lymphoedema and this was the miracle accepted by the Church which led to the beatification of Sister Faustina. Maureen certainly suffered a great deal through prolonged ill-health (including the amputation of one leg and the threatened amputation of her remaining leg). Her son, Bobby, also had very poor health. Maureen’s husband, Bob, determined to ask Sister Faustina for a cure, preceding this with a novena of Chaplets of the Divine Mercy. The final day of the Novena was spent at the tomb of Sister Faustina in Poland – and there, both Maureen and her son were granted healings. Maureen noted that whilst this was astonishing and she was deeply grateful, she said her real healing was interior – no longer an angry and bitter woman who was in a rage with God, she became a woman of deep faith and tranquility, accepting whatever the Lord chooses to send her. It was a deep moving testimony.

The afternoon concluded with the opportunity to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Throughout the day, Allan Canning showed brief video presentations of some of the artwork created by his brother, Tommy, whose work has featured in various locations across the world. These video presentations were not ‘adverts’ for the art work, but were created to highlight the messages behind the art, reflecting the message of the Gospels.

I am sure this will prove to have been a day of mercy and of great graces for those arranging and participating in the retreat day, and thanks again to St Gerard’s Church, to Father McGoldrick and to Allan Canning for a very uplifting and inspiring day.