Divine Mercy Sunday is the first Sunday after Easter. It was designated by St. John Paul II and officially became a feast day of mercy for the church. Two years ago, I decided we need to celebrate mercy concretely, not talk about it. For my first Divine Mercy Sunday, I went in search of the poor. On a typical Sunday, I would celebrate with praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet and praying for mercy. But this Sunday was different. I decided to perform an act of mercy. I decided it was not enough to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet but to be merciful.
I asked all the parishioners to collect food to bring to the church. We blessed the groceries, and then we made 15 food packages to give away. We had seven missionaries of mercy young and old in the parish that drove all over Magadan to find the poor. It was such a joy to be together and to give away a little bit of hope. We went to the dormitory across from the church. We found three grandmas in the hallway dressed in their pajamas. I said, “Today is Mercy Sunday, and the Lord wants to give you a present,” and we gave them a sack of groceries. They said, “Is this true? Batushka (the name for a priest in Russian) thank you,” they said. “Let me kiss your hand.” It was so beautiful.
Then there was a little miracle. We drove to Marchikan, the most impoverished place in Magadan. We couldn’t find a family that I heard was very poor and in need. They lived on the hill of Marchikan in a shack we learned had little heat because they couldn’t pay the electric bills. At 30 degrees below zero, they were hungry and cold. We had given up on finding this family, but on our way down the hill, I saw a little girl walking. We stopped. I wanted to ask her if she knew where their home was. Before I could ask her, she said, “Are you looking for 42b? I live there,” she told us. She was the family’s oldest daughter and heard we were coming. She had gone out looking for us because the streets were filled with snow, which is why we couldn’t find the house.
The Holy Spirit came at the right time and the right moment, so we could connect and be able to give away hope. We visited the home and met the oldest daughter’s three-month-old baby. We saw real poverty.
The next week we paid the electric bills, rewired the few lights they had so there was no fire danger, and gave them a small electric heater to keep them warm through the winter. They became our family in faith and the baby was eventually baptized, and the two little girls attended our bible study and vacation bible school for children. So the mercy multiplied, and these girls invited their friends, which led to the beginning of our Saturday children’s club.
We continued our day of mercy by going to Solnichna, a small village outside of Magadan. This village is nothing but a large run-down apartment building. We couldn’t get into the dormitory, but finally, the door opened. After knocking many times on the door, a woman in a wheelchair answered. She was shocked to see so many. We said, “Today is Divine Mercy Sunday and we want to give you a present from the Lord.” She kept repeating “Why me, why me?” Then a parishioner gave the woman’s son a stuffed animal. His eyes grew, and he kept saying, “Mom look, Mom look.” What a joy it was to see such happiness. We left there, and all felt like the Lord had led us to the people we needed to serve. We felt like real missionaries of mercy.