On October 3-5, 2020, the friars of the community of Areguá, Paraguay, celebrated some special events, namely the consecration and proclamation of their church as the Shrine of Divine Mercy, the priestly ordination of a confrere and the celebration of his first Mass.
On Saturday, October 3, our church in Areguá was proclaimed as the Shrine of Divine Mercy. The celebration was presided over by the Most Reverend Edmundo Ponziano VALENZUELA MELLID, Metropolitan Archbishop of Asunción. During the ceremony, the relics of our Martyrs of Pariacoto, Peru, Blessed Friars Michał TOMASZEK and Zbigniew STRZAŁKOWSKI, were placed upon the altar along with the relics of Blessed María Felicia de Jesús Sacramentado.
The history of the Shrine dates back to 1986, when our Polish missionary brother, Friar Rufin ORECKI, arrived in Paraguay and began doing pastoral ministry in the Archdiocese of Asunción. At the same time, he founded communities of the Militia of the Immaculata and began to spread the cult of Divine Mercy. Two years later, he was given some land in Areguá and decided to create a Divine Mercy center there. Fundraising for the construction of the Shrine began in 2002.
In 2005, Friar Marek DUDA arrived in Paraguay and became Friar Rufin’s closest collaborator.
On July 26, 2008, the Most Reverend Eustaquio Pastor CUQUEJO VERGA, Metropolitan Archbishop of Asunción, laid the cornerstone for the construction of the shrine church.
In 2015, Friar Rufin ORECKI died and was buried in the crypt of the Oratory of the Image of Merciful Jesus, which is adjacent to the newly consecrated Shrine Church. Obviously, his work continues and is still developing.
In 2020, the well-known Paraguayan artist Koki RUIZ created the main altar and some elements of the Shrine’s furnishings.
On Sunday, October 4, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, our brother, Friar Wildo José BOGARÍN was ordained to the priesthood. After thirty years of doing missionary service here, he is our second Conventual Franciscan from Paraguay. “Cheito”, as the friars call him, began to help the mission when he was fifteen years old. He did volunteer work on the land where the Shrine was going to be built. In 2011 he entered the Order and has now finally realized his vocation and dream to be a priest. This is a great joy for our missionary community. The ordination was presided over by the most Reverend Gabriel Narciso ESCOBAR AYALA, Vicar Apostolic of Chaco Paraguayo, Paraguay.
The next day, October 5, the new priest celebrated his first Mass. The homily was provided by Friar Marek DUDA, who had guided Friar Wildo for several years during his vocational discernment.
For our young mission in Paraguay, these events will forever be a part of our history.
Friar Tadeusz POBIEDZIŃSKI