HARTFORD – Parishioners from throughout the Archdiocese of Hartford are invited to gather at Bushnell Park at 2 p.m. April 3, Divine Mercy Sunday, for a special jubilee procession through the streets of Hartford to the Cathedral of St. Joseph.
At the cathedral, pilgrims seeking God’s mercy will be invited to pass through the Holy Door of Mercy and to participate in various devotions.
The purpose of the event is to give people an opportunity to make a pilgrimage to seek and find God’s mercy in our lives, families and community, said Father Michael A. Ruminski, coordinator of the Jubilee Year of Mercy for the Archdiocese of Hartford.
The celebration will begin with a brief prayer service led by Archbishop Leonard P. Blair at the Bushnell Park Performance Pavilion, followed by a .6-mile procession up Asylum and Farmington avenues to the cathedral.
“We’re going to close down Farmington Avenue, and hope to have 1,500 people,” said Father Ruminski. He and a committee have been coordinating the event with the Hartford Police Department.
“It’s the idea of a pilgrimage,” he said, explaining the purpose of the procession. “It’s something extraordinary that we can do. As we walk from Bushnell Park to the Holy Door, we open our hearts, and it opens you up to something different from your everyday life. You also experience the church at large.”
It’s vital for the procession to be public, he added. “It’s important for the state and city to have a visible sign of God’s mercy,” Father Ruminski said.
The procession is designed to end at the Holy Door of Mercy, a symbol of God’s mercy that is being extended to all seekers throughout the jubilee year. “It wasn’t until the year 2,000 that holy doors were made available beyond Rome,” Father Ruminski explained. “We’ve been given a great privilege to have one in our local church.”
The Holy Door of Mercy also serves as a symbol of Catholic unity. “It unites us to have one place to go,” he said.
At the cathedral, pilgrims will be welcome to participate in the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and take advantage of the sacrament of reconciliation.
Father Ruminski is encouraging those who may attend to meditate on the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. “As the Holy Father said, ‘Jesus Christ is the face of mercy.’
“It’s a moment to contemplate the very gift we have already received,” Father Ruminski said of the Blessed Sacrament, “in order to send us out to give mercy.”
Father Ruminski also urged pilgrims to take advantage of the opportunity for reconciliation being offered that day.
“Reconciliation is the source of our experience of mercy,” he said. “We’ve been given the gift of forgiveness and the ability to be renewed. That empowers us to be merciful to others because God has been merciful to us.”
To perform a corporal act of mercy, visitors are being asked to bring non-perishable food items for donation to the Cathedral Food Pantry, which serves the neighboring Asylum Hill community.
The event will have well-marked parking areas and ambassadors to guide people in where to park, Father Ruminski said. Shuttles will also be provided to assist in moving people back and forth between the park and the cathedral.
“People who can’t process are still welcome to come at 3 p.m. for the exposition and reconciliation. Everybody,” Father Ruminski stressed, “is invited.”