Closing of the Holy Doors of Mercy: Parishes’ journey

Thursday 17 November 2016

By Tiffany Davis,  Communications and Event Manager for the Archbishop’s Office for Evangelisation

 Closing the Door of Mercy at St Patrick's Cathedral
At the start of the 11am mass on Sunday 20 November 2016, Archbishop Hart will walk through the holy door of mercy at St Patrick's Cathedral for the last time. We encourage those who have not yet had the opportunity to pass through the door to be present on this day to receive the abundant graces that have been made available to us during this year. 
If you are unable to attend on this day, but still wish to walk through the door of mercy before the conclusion of the Jubilee, please visit the Cathedral website to view the opening times.

The Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy was embraced by parishes across the Archdiocese of Melbourne. Following Pope Francis’ announcement of the jubilee, the Archbishop’s Office for Evangelisation (AOFE) organised a ‘Taste and see’ seminar to help parishes prepare for the Year of Mercy locally. Held in October 2015, the day offered participants the chance to explore mercy through the four pillars of parish life: community and hospitality; proclamation and worship; faith and witness; and service and outreach. The 600-plus participants left the seminar equipped with tools to celebrate the jubilee in their communities.
More than 3000 people from across the Archdiocese made a pilgrimage to St Patrick’s Cathedral to mark the beginning of the jubilee. Pilgrims from Resurrection Parish in Kings Park travelled more than 30km by foot into the city to attend. It was a sight to behold as thousands slowly passed through the cathedral’s Holy Door of Mercy, staying for prayer and the Sacrament of Reconciliation, which at one point had organisers calling on priests from the crowd to come forward to hear more confessions.
Over the next few months, parishes embraced the Year of Mercy in various ways—mission days, retreats focussed on the theme of mercy, outreach programs and pilgrimages to Holy Doors around the Archdiocese to name but a few. AOFE collaborated with parishes and movements to host various regional Year of Mercy gatherings. These included: a special Ash Wednesday service at St Monica’s, Moonee Ponds with Bishop Terry Curtin; a ‘24 hours for the Lord’ prayer service at St Patrick’s Cathedral; a Pentecost gathering with Bishop Mark Edwards (in collaboration with One, a charism of Catholic Charismatic Renewal Melbourne); the ‘Mary the Refugee’ prayer service with Bishop Peter Elliott at Our Lady of the Assumption, Cheltenham; and a brainstorming session with parish leadership teams held at Resurrection Parish to discuss how the fruits of the jubilee can continue beyond 2016.
Strewn throughout the year were workshops with local and international speakers providing insights on ‘mercy’ in the context of the world of politics, media, healthcare and the universal Church. British life peer and crossbencher Baroness Sheila Hollins discussed ‘The medicine of mercy’. American writer and social activist Nathan Schneider spoke on ‘Creating a culture of mercy in public life’. Czech author and professor Mgr Tomáš Halík returned to Melbourne to discuss the ‘Healing alienation in our Church and world’. The speakers program concluded with the Archdiocese of Washington’s Dr Susan Timoney’s talk on ‘A spirituality of mercy in parish life’. A series of resources were developed to help parishes unpack the themes of the Jubilee, many of which were used by dioceses around the world, including in the United Kingdom and America.
The resource included: the Year of Mercy resource booklet, a guide to the jubilee for parishes and schools; a series of personal/group reflection booklets on the works of mercy, the Beatitudes, the Rosary and the Creed; and Parables of Mercy, a travelling art exhibit. Parables of Mercy has, to date, been borrowed by more than 30 parishes, schools and organisations across the Archdiocese. The exhibition depicts images of the parables of the Lost Coin, the Prodigal Son, the Lost Sheep, the Measure of Flour, the Labourers in the Vineyard and the Good Samaritan. It also includes an image of the Washing of the Feet and a photograph of Pope Francis embracing a sight-impaired girl. Together, the images invite the viewer to enter into the spirit of mercy. AOFE has prepared a new resource pack to assist parishes to mark the conclusion of the jubilee on Sunday 20 November, the Feast of Christ the King. 
The pack has been sent to all parishes and is also available online at It includes a suggested liturgy outline, a blessing/ritual for closing local Doors of Mercy and reflection booklets that can be used beyond the jubilee.
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