After the Church of Divine Mercy (CDM) was established at Sungai Ara, Penang in 2013, the parish priest Fr. Martin Arlando decided that steps should be taken to obtain the relics of St Faustina and St John Paul II. Letters were written to Poland and Rome to request for the relics in early 2014. Prayers were offered at daily morning masses and on weekends for the request to be granted.
In June, 2014, the parish received the good news. A letter dated the 12th June, 2014 was received from sr. M. Ignacja Bazan of the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in Krakow, Poland informing Fr Martin that a first class relic (a piece of a major bone of St Faustina) had be awarded to CDM. In that same month, 30th June, a letter from Bishop Slawomir Oder was written to Rt. Rev Sebastian Francis, Bishop of Penang Diocese informing him that CDM had been granted a first class relic of St John Paul II (a drop of blood). The Apostolic Nuncio of the Vatican to Malaysia, Archbishop Joseph S. Marino had personally collected the relic from Rome and handed it over to Bishop Sebastian. Fr Martin was then called by bishop to collect this relic from him. It was indeed an answer to all the prayers offered up. At the end of February, a group of 20 pilgrims from CDM journeyed to Poland to collect the relic from sr Ignacja. On presenting the relic to Fr Martin she was heard to remark that it was so good to present the relic to such a large group of devotees. Normally, the contingent was much smaller, of perhaps just a few pilgrims.
On Palm Sunday, 29th March, 2105, Bishop Sebastian Francis was invited to CDM to install the relics. A special reliquarium was constructed in the church to have the relics on permanent display for the veneration of those who come to CDM seeking help through prayers. In his homily, Bishop Sebastian remarked that the church was named Divine Mercy. This was not human mercy which is normally associated with pity and sympathy. In being connected to St John Paul II who instituted the Feast of Divine Mercy as the first Sunday after Easter and St Faustina who introduced the devotion to the Divine Mercy, CDM now has the physical presence of these two saints (a piece of bone and a drop of blood). He invited the congregation of CDM to make connections of Jesus with themselves, families, church, society, country and the world. He remarked that mercy and compassion are the two best words in the English language. We need to allow Jesus to lead us to mercy and compassion that comes from the heart of the Father and extend it to all humanity.
He reminded those present that the Lenten theme was Joy + Compassion = Gospel. Joy would be superficial without compassion. Every baptised Catholic must learn to bring together Joy and Compassion in a balance within the context of the Gospel. He said the next year will be declared the Year of Mercy & Compassion beginning on the 8th December 2015. This will be the Jubilee Year of the Universal Church to witness the Mercy and Compassion of God to the peoples of the world. As such, CDM whose name is our identity marked by the bodily and spiritual presence of St John Paul II and St Faustina should set the benchmark or the hallmark for the rest of the diocese in spreading the mercy and compassion of God. He said he will ask his priests of the diocese for CDM to be made the pilgrim church for all to come to witness the Joy and Compassion of Jesus. He was glad that CDM had already began by setting up the Prison Ministry as the world needs to have mercy and compassion of God for the ill fortunate. Bishop reminded us that the opposite of mercy and compassion is indifference, being judgmental, self-righteous and self- sufficient. We are to avoid such tendencies as this will give rise to a false sense of our catholic religion. He asked that we include young people on this journey of adventure and for the intercession of our mother Mary to help make CDM the hallmark of the Mercy and Compassion of the diocese through her silent contemplation.
In a simple ceremony, two young children brought forward the relics for Bishop Sebastian to place in the relicquarium. The place was blessed and he knelt to say a short prayer after placing the relics in their showcases. A short video was also played to show the lives of St John Paul II and St Faustina Kowalski. The congregation was invited to venerate to relics after mass.
Dr. Ivan Filmer
2nd April, 2015.