Merciful like the Father
Pope Francis has declared a Holy Year dedicated to the theme of mercy which begins on the feast of the Immaculate Conception (8 December, 2015) and concludes on the feast of Christ the King (20 November, 2016).
Pope Francis has placed mercy at the centre of his ministry. In announcing the Holy Year of Mercy he said
‘No one can be excluded from the mercy of God; …the Church is the house that welcomes all and refuses no one. Its doors remain wide open, so that those who are touched by grace can find the certainty of forgiveness…. the whole Church will find in this Jubilee the joy needed to rediscover and make fruitful the mercy of God, with which all of us are called to give consolation to every man and woman of our time.’
A new element in this Holy Year is the emphasis on the celebration of Mercy in each local Church, across the world. In our own diocese of Killaloe we have planned a number of initiatives to celebrate the Year of Mercy:
- Holy doors will be opened at the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, Ennis and in Roscrea. Walking through the Holy Door is a symbol of conversion, leaving selfishness behind and opening our hearts to the love, grace, mercy and forgiveness of Christ;
- The Diocese has invited Fr Dermot Ryan, St Kieran’s College, Kilkenny to introduce us to the year. He will give a talk entitled ‘Pope Francis and Mercy – A worldly weakness, a Christian Strength’ at St Flannan’s College, Ennis on Monday 14 December at 8pm. All welcome.
- We have made Holy Year banners available to each parish;
- Holy Year Prayer cards featuring the Holy Year Logo and a prayer for the Holy Year written by Pope Francis have been distributed;
- The Diocese is organising two Holy Year pilgrimages:
- A pilgrimage to Rome from 1-6 August. Further information from Fr Albert McDonnell, Kildysart;
- A Pilgrimage to the Holy Land from 23-31 October, Further information from Fr Tom Ryan, Shannon;
- The primary school catechetics team have chosen ‘Mercy’ as the theme for the religious education programme in our schools;
- In response to the Pope’s call to engage in concrete expressions of mercy the priests of the diocese have undertaken to focus on the pastoral care of prisoners and their families;
- Young people are invited to volunteer to help pilgrims in Rome during the Holy Year. See im.va
Parishes and clusters may wish to hold their own celebration of the Year of Mercy. Possible ways of celebrating mercy include:
- Praying the psalms and parables of mercy (cf im.va)
- A parish or cluster pilgrimage to the Holy Door in Ennis or Roscrea;
- A pilgrimage to a Mass rock, Holy well, monastic site, cillin;
- A concrete expression of mercy to help a group on the margins of our parish or society;
- The promotion of Pope Francis’ teaching on care for our common home (as contained in his letter Laudato Si’):
- The promotion of dialogue among the social, ethnic groups in our parishes/clusters;
- Celebrating the sacrament of reconciliation which Pope Francis describes as the sacrament of mercy.