Pope Francis will be officially opening the Jubilee of Mercy on Tuesday 08 December when he will open the Door of Mercy at St Peter's. Aware that I could not make it to the two places in a short time (the Vicariate of Ingwavuma in South Africa and the Diocese of Manzini in Swaziland) I decided to start one of them... earlier.
At the last clergy meeting it was decided we would open "three" doors of mercy in the Vicariate: one at the Cathedral (Hlabisa), another one at Our Lady of Ingwavuma (where our pilgrimage is held every year) and one at Star of the Sea (KwaNgwanase) as our sodalities will be gathering there in June and July.
As I now reside in another country, we agreed I would only open the first one and all the parishes would send a delegation to the celebration.
Between that meeting in November and today, it was also decided that the priests of the Vicariate would try their best to be present too. I did not know that and it was a great surprise. Most of them were able to arrive on time for the celebration.
We gathered outside the Cathedral. Fr Mkhwanazi explained the meaning of the Jubilee. Fr Msweli read the first paragraphs of Pope Francis' letter on the Year of Mercy which have been translated into Zulu. We then proceeded to the Cathedral while singing the litanies of the Saints.
At the door we proclaimed: "Open the gates of justice, we shall enter and give thanks to the Lord" (Ps 118;19) and after opening them: "This is the Lord's gate, let us enter through it and obtain mercy and forgiveness".
We slowly proceeded inside the Cathedral. It was only then I realised it was absolutely full with people standing outside.
The "Jubilee of mercy" has now started in the Vicariate. Everyone left with "homework". The theme chosen by Pope Francis: "Be merciful like the Father" taken from Luke 6:36 is not only an invitation to welcome God's merciful love in our lives but to witness it with our words, actions... our whole lives.
Each sodality (Sacred Heart, St Anne, St John...) and pastoral area (catechists, youth, justice and peace...) have been asked to let us know how they plan to "be merciful like the Father" according to their own call.
Our Mass ended with the singing of the "Salve Regina" entrusting this time of grace to the intercession of the Mother of Mercy.