Pope Francis began the Jubilee Year of Mercy earlier this month by opening the Vatican Holy Door near the end of a liturgy at St. Peter’s Basilica.
“This Extraordinary Holy Year is itself a gift of grace,” said the pontiff during his homily on Dec. 8. “This will be a year in which we grow ever more convinced of God’s mercy. How much wrong we do to God and his grace when we speak of sins being punished by his judgment before we speak of their being forgiven by his mercy. But that is the truth. We have to put mercy before judgment, and in any event, God’s judgment will always be in the light of his mercy.”
Writer Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM, focused on this message during a presentation he gave later that day at St. Francis of Assisi Church in New York City. The building was filled to capacity to hear the “Today is a time of mercy!” talk given by the Our Lady of Guadalupe Province friar.
In Boston, several friars stationed at St. Anthony Shrine are offering a 14-week series of special prayer services as a “Year of Prayer for Mercy.” The services, offered on Friday afternoons from Dec. 11 to May 13 with a break during Lent, are being lead by John Aherne, OFM, Eric Carpine, OFM, Christopher Coccia, OFM, and Tony LoGalbo, OFM. The dates and leaders can be found on the Shrine’s website.
In Raleigh, N.C., St. Francis of Assisi Parish is using the Year of Mercy to amplify the way it provides for those in need. Throughout the next few months, the parish will establish a St. Vincent de Paul ministry to “compliment our other ministries, adding a layer of assistance,” according to those organizing the ministry. People who call the parish asking for help will be put through to a special hotline staffed by a St. Vincent de Paul representative. Two trained St. Vincent de Paul volunteers will then make a home visit, discuss the caller’s needs and establish a relationship. Assistance will be provided using existing ministries, outreach to the larger community and St. Vincent de Paul resources.
Later this month, the parish will open its doors to four homeless families, hosting them in the parish’s buildings for overnight sleeping, meals and social time. This ministry, performed in collaboration with the parish’s Wake Interfaith Hospitality Network, brings together volunteers of all ages to do cooking, evening hospitality and overnight hosting, childcare, transportation, laundry and cleanup. The bulletin pointed out that “this is a concrete way for our community to put a work of mercy into action.”
To provide guidance during the Year of Mercy, the HNP Office of Development is offering an e-book of prayers and reflections for each day through Nov. 20, 2016. “Mercy in My Pocket” can be downloaded for free on the Development Office’s website.
Ministries organizing programs that relate to the Year of Mercy are invited to share their activities with the Communications Office for inclusion in a future issue of HNP Today.
— Maria Hayes is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.
- “Reflection: Year of Mercy” — Dec. 8, 2015, HNP Today