- “I very much welcome this unique opportunity to emphasise our shared mission of bringing God’s merciful love to our wider community” – Bishop Donal McKeown
- “The friendship between our two churches has been growing and deepening in recent years and Sunday’s unique occasion – the only ceremony of its kind we are aware of to begin in another Christian denomination’s Church – is a further sign of that developing relationship.” – Archdeacon Robert Millar
On Sunday13 December, Bishop Donal McKeown will join the congregation in Christ Church in Derry for the start of what is believed to be a unique ceremony which will culminate in the opening of the Holy Door at nearby Saint Eugene’s Cathedral. The occasion will mark the start of the Year of Mercy, announced by Pope Francis earlier this year, and it is believed that it will be the only ceremony of its kind which will begin in a church belonging to another Christian denomination.
Bishop McKeown will join the congregation of Christ Church for their Morning Prayer on at 11.00 am. At the end of the Service, Bishop McKeown will begin the ceremony to mark the opening of the Holy Door in St Eugene’s Cathedral with a short time of prayer in Christ Church when the Gospel of God’s Mercy is proclaimed and prayers. The procession will then go to the main door of St Eugene’s Cathedral arriving at 12.30pm.
This door will be the Holy Door for the Jubilee Year. Bishop McKeown will open the door and enter the newly refurbished porch. This porch will be the place of welcome for the Year of Mercy. Above the Holy Door in the bell tower of the Cathedral is the statue of St Eugene.
On entering the porch you are greeted by the eight newly positioned oak statues that were once in the canopy of the pulpit in the Cathedral:
- Saint Eugene, Saint Patrick and Saint Columba welcomes you. St Eugene, St Patrick and St Columba proclaimed the Word of God in Ireland;
- Saint Matthew, Saint Mark, Saint Luke and Saint John proclaim Jesus’ merciful words and actions in the Gospels and
- Saint Joseph and Mary who lead you into the Cathedral to Jesus.
Also in the porch are the words from the prophet Isaiah ‘Do not be afraid I have redeemed you. I have called you by your name. You are mine.’
The ceremony for the opening of the Holy Door will continue with the celebration of the Eucharist.
When Pope Francis opened the Holy Door in St Peter’s Basilica on the feast of the Immaculate Conception, he said “To pass through the Holy Door means to rediscover the infinite mercy of the Father who welcomes everyone and goes out personally to encounter each of them.”
Bishop McKeown, commenting on the significance of Sunday’s ceremony, said: “There is a great need for mercy, healing and forgiveness in our community. The Churches will continue to work as instruments of peace in order to build a cohesive community in which our young people can thrive. Thus I very much welcome this unique opportunity to emphasise our shared mission of bringing God’s merciful love to our wider community”.
Welcoming Bishop McKeown to Christ Church ahead of Sunday’s historic occasion, Archdeacon Robert Miller, Rector of Christ Church said: “It is a great honour for the congregation of Christ Church to have been included in the ceremony to open the Holy Door in our neighbouring church, Saint Eugene’s Cathedral. The friendship between our two churches has been growing and deepening in recent years and Sunday’s unique occasion – the only ceremony of its kind we are aware of to begin in another Christian denomination’s church – is a further sign of that developing relationship. I wish St Eugene’s every success during the Year of Mercy and beyond. I pray that 2016 will be a successful year for both our congregations and dioceses, and that it will herald a further strengthening of the friendship between us.”
Everyone is welcome to join the Churches in this unique celebration.
Notes to Editors:
- Bishop Donal McKeown is Bishop of Derry
For media contact: Catholic Communications Office Maynooth: Martin Long 00353 (0) 86 172 7678 and Brenda Drumm 00353 (0) 87 310 4444