Looking at one’s own life through the prism of the Gospel is often frightening, but in most cases, only when we are trustfully looking at the eyes of Merciful Jesus, our hope raises in our hearts and it becomes the source of real joy – says Fr. dr. Franciszek Ślusarczyk, a rector and a custodian of the sanctuary of Divine Mercy

MARIA FORTUNA-SUDOR: - Sunday of Divine Mercy is a special time for the sanctuary in Łagiewniki, isn’t it?

FR. DR FRANCISZEK ŚLUSARCZYK: - The motto of this year’s day are the words: ‘Mercy the source of freedom’. This is the year in which there is not only the 100th anniversary of regaining independence but also the 40th anniversary of electing cardinal Karol Wojtyła for the Holy See in Rome. John Paul II is called Pope of Mercy. He taught us how to be responsible in using the gift of freedom, which is also verified in what our ‘imagination of mercy’ is like every day.

In 2002 John Paul II said in the homily: ‘May the promise of Jesus be fulfilled, that ‘a spark preparing the world for His final arrive’ must come out from here’. Where is the cult to Merciful Jesus developing particularly today?

We usually speak about the Philippines, Korea, Nigeria, the United States. For me there is, however, a significant fact that at the recent time also groups from Germany, France or Slovakia have been arriving at the Hill of Mercy, in order to stay there for a few days and experience this mystery more deeply during next days of the retreat.

Who are pilgrims and where do they arrive from at the Hill of Mercy?

Last year pilgrims arrived here from nearly 100 countries and every continent. Among them there are children, the youth, consecrated people, and often elderly people having their time of reflection on where everything is aiming at, after their hectic life.. Looking at their own life through the prism of the Gospel often terrifies, but only when looking trustfully at the eyes of Merciful Jesus raises hope in heart for forgiveness and becomes the source of real joy.
We experience this joy and hope here all the time. Before a few days there appeared a group of a few people from Gallardon in the diocese of Charters in France. The pilgrims visited important places of Cracow and nearby areas, but what was the most important for them was a meeting in Łagiewniki, but for a few months, every day, they have been meeting at 3 p.m. in a special chapel of Divine Mercy, where there are images of St. Faustyna and St. John Paul II, beside the image of Jesus. This community is present here for prayer and adoration. Its members have an occasion to go to confession. What is interesting, they have ready texts of Novena. What was a nice surprise for me was giving me some copies of ‘The Cross Road in the brightness of Mercy’ which was translated into French. The pilgrims were asking me for a meeting, special blessing, a few words about the message of Mercy which they were absorbing with ears, mouths and hearts. They were coming with the copies of the ‘Diary’ of St. Faustyna in order to write them a dedication, so that they could undertake a mission of mercy with this message!

And Poles?

First, this is the area of Southern Poland. The most common pilgrims – especially on Sundays and Holidays – are families who arrive here with their relatives, friends. They want to attend the Holy Mass, confession, pray in other places of the sanctuary, see also the sanctuary of St. John Paul on Białe Morza, being nearby, where during the war and war occupation young Karol Wojtyła worked as a worker of Solvayu.

I reckon Priest was the witness of conversions, healings….

During the Year of Divine Mercy, the Holy Father appointed me a missionary of mercy and this ministry is still going on. The most beautiful healings happen in our hearts, so I must admit that I have often cried with happiness in a confession when I was accompanying my penitents in their meeting with Merciful Jesus, often after years of their departing from God and His commandments. It was when prophetic words of St. John Paul came to my mind, who said during the consecration of the basilica: ‘I deeply believe that this new church will always remain a place where people will stand towards God in the Spirit and the truth. They will be arriving here with trustfulness which accompanies everybody who humbly opens his heart to the act of merciful love of God – this love which the sin is not able to overcome. Here, in the fire of Divine love, human hearts will be crying with desire of conversion and everybody who is looking for hope, will find solace’ (Kraków-Łagiewniki, 17 August 2002). Indeed, here real miracles of God’s grace take place!

Every time when I meet Priest Rector or bishop Jan Zając in the space of the sanctuary in Łagiewniki, I see friendly fathers welcoming pilgrims. Where do fathers get joy and strength from for lots of meetings and talks?

One of the places which gives everybody spiritual energy and allows for getting fulfilled with Divine optimism, there is a chapel of Perpetual Adoration next to the basilica. Jesus looking from the monstrance teaches us to look at our neighbours with the eyes of our hearts! His quiet presence allows us for becoming calm after our tensed and stressful situations, which the contemporary man experiences. Being hidden in the fragile form of Bread He makes us aware of fragility of human life, and also necessity of sharing our everyday bread, friendliness, smile, patience, hope with others.

And what role does organ music play in a prayer and is there a chance for the organ construction to be finished this year?

Organ music invites us to a deep worship of God in a prayer for the richness of His gifts and directs our minds and hearts towards Heaven. The organs, being constructed in Łagiewniki, in the basilica of Divine Mercy, are also the expression of gratitude for the gift of independence regained by our nation 100 years ago. We hope that this Divine work being constructed thanks to people of noble hearts, is going to be heard on 19 August – during the 5th Nationwide Pilgrimage of Worshippers of Divine Mercy. It is due to the contribution of lots of people who were engaged willingly according to their possibilities: prayer, good word, patience, warmhearted donation… Also readers of the Catholic Weekly ‘Sunday’, uniting people of good will, have contributed to constructing these organs. Thanks to this common work a group of real apostles of Jesus has grown, who want to worship God and serve to their neighbours through particular acts, a good word, prayer and wonderful song of gratitude to worship Divine Mercy.

In the nearest time a woman known for merciful deeds is going to be included in the group of the beatified.

On 28 April 2018 God’s servant Hanna Chrzanowska is going to be proclaimed a beatified in the basilica of Divine Mercy. This is another beatification in this place. Zofia Czeska – a Presentation Nun and Małgorzata Szewczyk – a Seraphite nun were beatified 5 years ago. The person of Hanna Chrzanowska – a woman of excellent ‘imagination of mercy’ – is another seal that it is worth following the voice of righteous conscience, that real material and spiritual poverty is often hidden and one must find ways to reach it effectively, that it is worth – despite tiredness and lack of praises – experiencing daily joy of giving.

This year we are going to celebrate the 80th anniversary of death of St. Sister Faustyna and the 40th anniversary of electing cardinal Karol Wojtyła a pope. Do Priest Rector ask the Apostles of Mercy for support?

They are reliable and people’s poverty is known to them very well, as they have experienced it very often. When talking to people hurt by life, especially in the Office of Mercy, it seems that there are no arguments to cheer a man up and show him a light of hope, so I call for their intercession quietly, as well as I recall myself some flashbacks of their life, which was not easy at all or deprived of real problems, but thanks to God’s help and persistent cooperation with Merciful Jesus it became valuable and so beautiful to me. The saints are the most credible and vivid Gospel to me!

Translated by Aneta Amrozik

Niedziela 14/2018 (8 IV 2018)

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: