PARK CITY — Best-selling author and speaker Father Michael E. Gaitley, MIC, will present a retreat in Park City, the focus of which will be Divine Mercy and Marian consecration.
Fr. Gaitley is director of evangelization for the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception and director of formation for the Marian Missionaries of Divine Mercy. He also is the author of the bestselling books 33 Days to Morning Glory and Consoling the Heart of Jesus. His most recent book is 33 Days to Merciful Love.
“The message of Divine Mercy is so healthy and it’s so beautiful and it leads to great joy and hope,” Fr. Gaitley said, adding that the devotion to this message “has just spread like wildfire throughout the country and throughout the world.”
The message of Divine Mercy was brought to the world by Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska: Divine Mercy in My Soul, written by a Polish nun who recorded the visions she had of Jesus and her conversations with him.
“As it says in the diary of Faustina, the greater the sinner the greater his right to my mercy. … The Lord judges the heart, and it is the humble and contrite heart that really is what attracts him,” Fr. Gaitley said.
In addition, during the retreat, “we stay laser-focused on how to understand the Gospel, and that the Gospel is the source of our joy, the source of our peace, and that it’s the Good News we are called to share with others, but before we share it with others we have to first understand it ourselves and be touched by it,” he said.
The Gospel teaches that “God came to us amidst our sin,” and Jesus goes out to the weak and the broken and the poor, Fr. Gaitley pointed out. “He doesn’t go to the Pharisees. Our religion is not a religion for the Pharisees, it’s for the weak and the broken. [The Gospel] says the healthy aren’t in need of a physician; the sick need a physician. … The most central truth of the proclamation of the Gospel is God’s mercy for sinners.”
The retreats are meant to bring about the renewal called for by Vatican II, “and the heart of Vatican II was about bringing the faith from head to heart to life, instead of just memorizing the faith. … The most central truth of the proclamation of the Gospel is God’s mercy for sinners,” he said.
The Divine Mercy is “a message of hope, and it’s a message of hope that doesn’t come from Fr. Mike Gaitley but it’s a message of hope that comes from the saints – Faustina, Therese, John Paul II, – [and] Pope Francis, who keeps repeating what John Paul II said about that this is a time of mercy.”
For Linda Lukanowski, who organized the Park City retreat, Divine Mercy is extremely personal, she said, because a few years ago, “in a semi-dry and empty ‘church space,’” she read Fr. Gaitley’s first book. Afterward she attended several of his retreats. The next step in her journey was a hike in Death Valley during which she repeated the Divine Mercy chaplet over and over, trying to understand what it meant when she said, “Jesus, I trust in you.”
“Nothing was happening, so I decided to stay one more day,” she said.
That day, a Sunday, she hiked to a remote spot. Alone, she sat and told Jesus, “I didn’t get it; that I don’t know how to trust,” she said.
Still without an answer, she decided to attend Mass. Arriving at the church, she saw a wooden hand-carved sign with the words “Jesus, I trust in you.”
“I knew that I was in the right place and that I was meant to be there. I asked for a sign, and he literally gave me a sign,” she said.
Then, a man approached and told her she was in a Roman Catholic Divine Mercy Devotional Mission Church. He also gave her an original Divine Mercy image for which he had made the frame.
“Fr. Gaitley started me on a journey to be closer to God through Divine Mercy and the importance of all of us in saving souls,” Lukanowski said, adding that she is still figuring out what to do with the “faith gift” she has received, but she thinks working to bring Fr. Gaitley to Park City is part of it.
Regarding the Marian consecration aspect of the retreat, St. John Paul, St. Maximilian Kolbe and St. Therese of Lisieux will be discussed as well as St. Faustina because “they really are amazing in terms of unpacking the powerful message of mercy and devotion of Mary,” Fr. Gaitley said. “According to St. Maximilian Kolbe and St. John Paul II, Marian consecration is the quickest, easiest way to become a saint. If there is such a way, it’s pretty exciting to hear about what that is and why it’s so powerful.”
Fr. Gaitley thinks that the encounter with the four saints – Maximilian Kolbe, Faustina, Therese of Lisieux, John Paul II – that the retreat offers is why people often tell him that the Mercy & Mary Retreat is the best one they’ve been on, he said.
For the event in Park City, the hour-long presentation on Friday night, which is open to the public, will be a personal testimony about how he discovered Divine Mercy and Mary, Fr. Gaitley said.
On Saturday will be four presentations, all focused on the themes of Marian consecration and Divine Mercy. The final talk will be about “how we make use of the time of mercy that we have available to us,” he said.
WHAT: Retreat with Fr. Michael Gaitley
WHEN: April 5-6 – Friday, 7:15-8:15 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m.–5 p.m.
WHERE: St. Mary of the Assumption Catholic Church, 1505 White Pine Canyon Road, Park City
COST: The Friday presentation is free; the daylong Saturday event is $49.95
Registration required; visit https://events.marianmissionaries.org/events/mercy-mary-retreat-park-city-ut/ or call 413-944-8500, ext. 10.