Sylvia and Ralph Ziolkowski first found out about The Divine Mercy Center nearly 11 years ago when
Sylvia worked at St. Lucy as a religion education secretary.
“She brought home a Divine Mercy Pamphlet when it was still at St. Barnabas,” explained Ralph. “It just
so happened she went out to a girlfriend’s and I was home alone. I was told to go downstairs and get
that pamphlet, which I did and I was given a message to go to St. Barnabas the second week of Lent, on
a Thursday for seven o’ clock service.”
As Ralph read this pamphlet that had found its way into his home, he knew he had to go to the Divine
And so, he did. Ralph first came to the Divine Mercy Center in 2007, nearly 11 years go. “It kicked off
from there and I have not turned back,” he said.
Not long after his first visit to the Center, Ralph urged Sylvia to go with him. “I went when he asked me
and we have been going ever since,” said Sylvia.
At the start, the pair were part of a small prayer ministry. “It was a constant, vigilant prayer. It was a
smaller ministry, but I believed wholeheartedly that Jesus wanted me to be there,” explained Ralph.
“There was three of us. Myself, Cindy Newman, and Antoinette Lanni that were there for the prayer
service. Sooner or later it started picking up and more and more people responded and gathered and
that’s where we’re at today.”
Ralph explains that his involvement in the Divine Mercy Center was prompted by Catherine, as she
wanted him to serve mass. Ralph was instructed on how to serve mass and has been doing so for eight
years. “It is a privilege to do so and I am always excited to do it, not a lot of people can do it,” he said.
In addition to this prayer ministry, Ralph and Sylvia are responsible for bringing the Holy Eucharist to
seniors at Northpoint Senior Living and have been doing so for about two years.
“We were asked if we would be interested in giving the Holy Eucharist to the seniors at Northpoint
Senior Living and we said, yes. Catherine taught us how to do it. And we’ve been doing it ever since,”
said Ralph. “We do it every second Thursday of the Month.”
Being seniors themselves, the retirees understand the power of bringing the Holy Eucharist to these
“They are always grateful. Their response is, ‘thank you for bring the Lord to us.’” said Sylvia.
In addition to bringing the Holy Eucharist to the seniors at Northpoint and praying over them, Ralph and
Sylvia drop off bread to the Capuchins in Detroit every week.
“I was also asked by Catherine if we would be interested in taking the bread we received from Panera
and bringing it to the Capuchins on Mt. Elliot and the Fr. Solanus Casey Center,” said Ralph.
For about three years now, Ralph and Sylvia have taken this excess bread, donating it to the Capuchins
and the Fr. Solanus Casey Center. This bread goes to members of the community, many of whom are
either homeless or low-income residents.
“I know people are grateful,” said Ralph. “We see some people as they wait at the gate for us to come in
especially during the holiday season.”
“You see kids and seniors, really people of all ages are there,” added Sylvia.
The Fr. Solanus Casey Center holds a special place in her life, making the donation of the bread that
much more important to her. Fr. Solanus healed her when she was a child, says Sylvia.
Born with celiac disease at a time when very few people understood or even knew what the disease
was, Sylvia’s parents took her to Fr. Solanus.
“My mom and dad took me to Fr. Solanus and my mom put me in his arms. He said go home Helen and
tomorrow you will find someone to help you. …The next day my aunt called and said she knew doctor
working with celiac and that there was a special diet for me,” explained Sylvia.
This special diet healed her. Sylvia believes that through God and Fr. Solanus’ intercession she was
For Ralph, he is where he is at because of his wife, Sylvia. “If it wasn’t for Sylvia, I wouldn’t be doing this
today. She constantly reminds me what we should be doing in life. It has been hard at times. She
encouraged a special reconciliation at St. Lucy,” he explained.
Beyond this, however, they both believe in the power of prayer and the refuge the Divine Mercy Center
has provided them with.
“The center is a place of refuge for people to come and seek peace,” said Ralph. “So many people in
need of prayer come in and we pray with them.”