Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
CELEBRATION OF THE YEAR OF MERCY
ANNOUNCED BY POPE FRANCIS
A Jubilee of Mercy
On 13 March 2015 Pope Francis announced the celebration of an “extraordinary Holy Year”, a “Jubilee of Mercy”.
God's Mercy has been a theme very dear to Pope Francis from the very beginning of his service.
Four days after being elected in the homily he pronounced in the parish church of Saint Anne in the Vatican he said: "The message of Jesus is mercy. For me, I say this humbly, it is the Lord’s most powerful message”.
During the first Angelus on that day he added: “Feeling mercy, this word changes everything. This is the best thing we can feel: it changes the world. A little mercy makes the world less cold and more just. We need to understand properly this mercy of God, this merciful Father who is so patient” (Angelus, March 17, 2013).
The Jubilee of Mercy will commence with the opening of the Holy Door in St. Peter’s on December 8th, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, and will conclude on November 20, 2016 with the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.
A unique event
The coming Jubilee Year is a first of its kind:
- while Jubilee Years occurred every 25 or 50 years, this one instead is based upon a theme: “God's mercy”
- for the first time in the history of the Jubilee tradition, there will be an opportunity for individual dioceses to open a Holy Door – The Door of Mercy – either in the Cathedral or in a church of special meaning or a shrine of particular importance for pilgrimages.
The theme Pope Francis has chosen goes beyond welcoming God's mercy in our lives. It is a call to witness to others the mercy of the Father: “Be merciful like the Father” (Lk 6:6) “How greatly I desire that all those places where the Church is present, especially our parishes and our communities, may become islands of mercy in the midst of the sea of indifference!” (Pope Francis, Lenten Message 2015)
The Jubilee of Mercy in the Diocese of Manzini
Together with the priests of the Diocese we have been reflecting on some initiatives to welcome this time of God's grace for us, our Diocese, our country:
- The Jubilee of Mercy will start with a vigil prayer at “Our Lady of Assumption” (Cathedral) on Friday 11 December (to Saturday 12);
- Following Pope Francis' invitation, a special “Door of Mercy” will be opened at the Cathedral during the vigil;
- The logo has been translated into Swazi;
- Pope Francis' prayer for this year is already available in both our languages (Swazi and English);
- We encourage all our parishes to plan a one day pilgrimage to “Santissima Anunziata” (Florence) reflecting and celebrating God's mercy to us;
- We invite all our sodalities and groups (St Anne's, Sacred Heart, SCCW, SCCM…) to reflect on this jubilee and let us know how they will concretely manifest God's Mercy according to their own call;
- We invite all our Catholic Schools, hospital, nursing college, clinics and other Catholic institutions to join us in this Jubilee of Mercy and plan their own initiatives.
Priests' jubilee in Rome
As part of this year of grace, “Priests will celebrate their jubilee June 1-3. The first day will be dedicated to Eucharistic Adoration, lectio divina, and confessions. The Holy Father will preach their spiritual retreat June 2, and June 3 will say Mass with them.” (Catholic News Agency)
The priests of our diocese would like to attend this international gathering in Rome. The cost per priest (all included) will be around E 20.000. We therefore count on the support of all our parishes to make this possible.
Let us all be grateful for this season of grace and welcome God's merciful love in our lives.
Fraternally yours in Christ,
+ José Luis IMC
Bishop of Manzini