by BILL MOORE
AUCKLAND — A stunning, handpainted mural, created by the Studio of
John the Baptist to mark the canonisation of St John Paul II and St John XXIII, has a new home.
The artwork, which was displayed at the 2014 Eucharistic Convention, has been donated to the Mother of Divine Mercy (MDM) Refuge in Avondale.
Fr Tony Ricard — the singing and dancing priest from New Orleans —
and the MDM choirs were the “hit” of the 21st annual convention, which attracted about 1000 people to Takapuna
over Divine Mercy weekend.
Fr Ricard was so taken by the MDM community that, after his pre-convention visit, he threw out his planned talks and incorporated the MDM choirs into all of his presentations.
Convention organiser John Porteous explained that Fr Ricard had an immediate connection with everyone at the refuge — especially Mother Susana Fiu-Fetalai and the young people. “He was just bowled over by the spirit of the place,” Mr Porteous said.
The refuge began in 1991 as part of National Women’s Refuge. But the national organisation said MDM was only allowed to support battered women and children, and not the men who had abused them. In addition, MDM was ordered to stop Rosary and Divine Mercy devotions if it wanted to retain funding.
Samoan-born Susana, herself the victim of domestic violence for 18
years, could not abide by those rules, so the refuge went out on its own. MDM then and now seeks to safely, with the aid of Divine Mercy and the power of the Rosary, reunite women and children with the men who battered them.
About 200 women, and hundreds and hundreds of children, have lived at the refuge for varying amounts of time. For some it is a short-term safe house. For others, it is home for much longer.
The refuge is almost always filled to overflowing, as Mother Susana simply will not turn away a woman in need.
“Many of us like to pray the Divine Mercy chaplet, but if that’s all we do, if we don’t actually live Divine Mercy in our daily lives, we have missed the point,” she said.
Mother Susana and her team live Divine Mercy 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Because St John Paul II is the “Divine Mercy Pope”, it was appropriate that the mural find a new home at the refuge, according to Mr Porteous and Michael Pervan, the director of the studio.
Mother Susana said she was overwhelmed with the gift and the love
that had covered the refuge since the convention. “We are deeply grateful and humbled,” she said.
The refuge receives a small amount of financial support from St Vincent de Paul, but they have to raise the rest.
Bill Moore manages public relations for the Eucharistic Convention.
by BILL MOORE