By Jill Boughton
SOUTH BEND — The Apostolate of Divine Mercy in Service of Human Life began with the desire for a chapel near South Bend’s Women’s Pavilion. There Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament would draw people to pray for an end to the abortions that happen right next door.
So it was very fitting that hundreds of people joined Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades on Oct. 8 to celebrate Mass, dedicate the altar and bless the chapel. Present were pro-life activists who have been praying and working for over 50 years, young pro-life families, religious sisters and high school students dedicated to respecting human life.
The Divine Mercy Chapel, in a building right next to the abortion clinic, is unique in the diocese. Michael McDonald crafted the altar without charge and also — the evening before the dedication — created a rustic cross to hold a corpus that came all the way from Fatima.
Kelly Sadural created icons of St. Gianna Beretta and St. Maximilian Kolbe.
When there were no relics from those saints to be found, George Brenner donated an authentic first-class relic of St. George, an earlier 4th century martyr.
Shawn Sullivan, director of the Apostolate of Divine Mercy in Service of Human Life, proclaimed the readings at the Mass, while Staci Bert offered her voice as cantor. Concelebrants were Father Tom Shoemaker of St. Therese, Little Flower Parish, chaplain of the apostolate, and Father David Ruppert, pastor of St. Anthony de Padua Parish. The chapel is located between those two churches.
The prayers of the Mass perfectly fit the occasion. They reminded participants that Christ dwells in this house and in each person, willing to draw all things on earth to Himself. The Holy Innocents, St. Faustina and St. Gianna were invoked in the litany of the saints. The altar was described as a place where people unfold their good intentions, as a table of joy where the friends of Christ cast their cares and receive grace to resume their journey.
Bishop Rhoades reminded all that the altar is “the focal point of every Catholic church and chapel.”
During the altar dedication, Bishop Rhoades placed the relic into the altar, and then anointed it liberally with chrism oil.
Incense filled the chapel with “the fragrance of Christ.”
The light of Christ, in the form of candles, shone on the altar and was reflected in the faces of those who shared at the table.
In his homily, Bishop Rhoades called the chapel “a powerhouse of prayer for mothers tempted to abortion and for their unborn children.”
He underlined the importance of embracing Jesus’ Divine Mercy, which Blessed John Paul II called “an indispensable dimension of love, love’s second name.”
Bishop Rhoades said, “Filled with the merciful love flowing from the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we are thereby moved to love our neighbor: our neighbor not yet born, in the womb of her mother; our neighbor feeling desperate about an unexpected pregnancy; our neighbor, blinded by the deceiver, who performs or cooperates in abortion.
“This chapel of Divine Mercy should remind all who come here of this truth: … It is only the power of Christ’s merciful love that will bring about an end to abortion and a new culture of life,” Bishop Rhoades said.
After Mass, Quality Dining provided a hot lunch for everyone. Volunteers set up chairs and TV screens for the overflow crowd, and then efficiently brought in tables for lunch.
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