HAMDEN – Parishes throughout the Archdiocese of Hartford continue to roll out plans and events to mark the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy (Dec. 8, 2015-Nov. 20, 2016) proclaimed by Pope Francis to encourage the faithful to be more effective witnesses to God’s merciful love.
To help parishes with their planning efforts, Lisa Orchen, a member of the archdiocesan committee on the jubilee year, along with Sarah Hillier, justice education coordinator for the Office for Catholic Social Justice Ministry (OCSJM), presented a workshop Feb. 17 at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish that focused on what it means to respond to the Holy Father’s invitation to live the coming year as parish leaders, catechists, catechetical leaders and parishioners.
“We want to help parishes take the message of mercy and make it even more special in the parish setting,” explained Ms. Orchen. She said that the year is filled with opportunities for events, study, resources, prayer and programs that help Catholics rediscover and explore the spiritual and corporal works of mercy, Catholic social teaching and the scriptural parables of mercy, such as the Good Samaritan, Prodigal Son and the found sheep.
To launch the jubilee year, she said, the Holy Father issued the papal bull Misericordiae Vultus (The Face of Mercy), in which he outlined his intentions and hopes for the year. Writing that Jesus is the “face” of the Father’s Mercy, Pope Francis called mercy “the beating heart of the Gospel” that “demands justice” for the poor. He recommended that the holy year become a time for each person to grow rich in “living out in our daily lives the mercy” that God “constantly extends to all of us.”
Ms. Orchen said that the special celebration gives parishes an opportunity to emphasize mercy as a core part of the culture, educate parishioners about what the church teaches about mercy and justice and help the faithful understand how to incorporate merciful and just behavior into their faith journey.
One way of celebrating the year, she said, is by participating on April 3 in a Divine Mercy Sunday celebration that will include a procession from Bushnell Park to the cathedral for passage through the Holy Door, exposition, confessions and recitation of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. Organizers are expecting a crowd of more than 1,500 Catholics to attend.
Passage through a designated Holy Door is one one of the ways the Holy See makes it possible for the faithful to receive a plenary indulgence during the jubilee year.
Other upcoming jubilee-related archdiocesan events include a jubilee celebration for priests at 5 p.m. June 3, a White Mass for health care workers and people with illness or disability at 11 a.m. June 19 and a jubilee observance for prisoners at a correctional facility on Nov. 6.
Information about the jubilee is posted on the archdiocesan website, www.archdioceseofhartford.org.
Ms. Hillier referred to the USCCB initiative, “Two Feet of Love in Action,” which describes two ways of putting the Gospel in action: social justice, which addresses systemic causes of problems that affect many people, and charitable works, or short-term, emergency assistance for people. (See www.usccb.org/twofeet.)
She suggested that parishioners perform corporal or charitable works by helping at soup kitchens and shelters, donating clothes to agencies, collecting baby items for pregnancy centers, reducing water bottle usage, supporting school nutrition programs, assisting families in crisis, fund-raising for the poor and attending funerals of people in the community.