- Bishop MacDaid calls on people to be ‘Missionaries of Mercy’
- Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Charles Brown to open a special Door of Mercy at the Basilica on Lough Derg in 2016
In what was both an impressive and historic liturgy, a Holy Door – the Door of Mercy – was solemnly opened on Sunday afternoon last at Saint Macartan’s Cathedral in Monaghan. The Bishop of Clogher, Bishop Liam MacDaid presided and carried out the historic duty that has been mandated by Pope Francis to inaugurate the Jubilee Year of Mercy on that day in every diocese of the Catholic world. The liturgy, which consisted of five parts, was well attended by priests, religious and faithful from throughout the diocese.
In his homily (please see below), Bishop MacDaid spoke of the Church as the People of God, reaching out ‘humbly and earnestly to receive from Him the strength to overcome our weaknesses’. He said that he noted a great resolve on the part of many in the diocese to take up the challenge put forward by Jesus and of which Pope Francis has reminded us of: to forgive, to be compassionate to all and to seek and spread God’s mercy. Bishop MacDaid asked God to “smile on us with a mother’s love when we need to forgive ourselves. Remind us of your forgiveness to us when we need to forgive others…help us to be missionaries of mercy in our homes, our parishes and our diocese”.
Due to weather conditions the opening part of the liturgy was transferred from the outside of the cathedral to the baptistry, where a reading from the Gospel of Saint Luke was proclaimed by the deacon, Rev Kevin Malcolmson. This was followed by Melinda Mooney, a lector in Tullycorbet parish, reading aloud the opening part of the Bull of Indiction by Pope Francis which proclaimed the Holy Year, setting out the core of what mercy is and calling all people to seek God’s mercy and be agents of mercy. Bishop MacDaid was then accompanied in procession by over fifty representatives of parishes – priests, religious and laity – to the Door of Mercy at the main entrance to the cathedral where, after reciting the words of Psalm 118 – ‘Open the gates of justice, we shall enter and give thanks to the Lord’, he solemnly opened the door. Bishop MacDaid and the priests then processed to the sanctuary, accompanied by a revised musical setting of Psalm 95.
The active participation in the celebration of Eucharist gave a further expression of the diocesan nature of the event. Lectors and cantors as well as gift bearers were drawn from all ends of the diocese and different aspects of diocesan activity, giving a real sense of inclusiveness, while the music was led by the Cathedral Choir. The liturgy was planned and organised by both the Clogher Diocesan Liturgy Commission and the priests and people of the cathedral parish of Monaghan and Rackwallace.
The opening of the Door of Mercy follows a series of Gatherings across the diocese to prepare for the Jubilee Year. These were organised by the Clogher Pastoral Support Group. The Gatherings were held at the level of the seven combined Pastoral Areas, groupings of parishes. Further such Gatherings are being planned for the early part of Lent 2016.
Place of Pilgrimage:
The cathedral is now a place of pilgrimage for the jubilee year and the Door of Mercy, which is clearly well marked and decorated is the goal of that pilgrimage. There are several suggested stations at the cathedral for those making the pilgrimage, such as the Icon of Saint Macartan, the baptistry, the confessional, the Tabernacle etc. A brochure has been prepared outlining a ‘pilgrimage within a pilgrimage’ where pilgrims to the cathedral can ponder the mystery of God’s grace as it touches our Christian life and experience in the world. Resources to assist pilgrims (including texts adapted for primary and post-primary schools) will be available shortly.
Icon for Year of Mercy:
The Year of Mercy logo, which has evoked considerable interest, is the work of a Slovenian Jesuit priest Father Marko Rupnik SJ. It is inspired by the icons of Christ rescuing Adam from the underworld. It brings to mind the image of the Good Shepherd with the lost sheep, with a closeness between them. The eyes of the figures invite all to see as Jesus sees, with the eyes of mercy.
Pope Francis has also asked that Holy Doors of Mercy be opened at major shrines throughout the world. Therefore, a Door of Mercy will be opened on the pilgrimage island of Lough Derg at the commencement of the 2016 pilgrimage season. Bishop MacDaid announced on Sunday that the Door of Mercy at the Basilica on Lough Derg will be solemnly opened by the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Charles Brown.
Homily by Bishop MacDaid:
My dear friends, brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ,
I warmly welcome all of you who have come here today from various parts of our Diocese of Clogher. This is a beautiful and grace-filled occasion.
Today we are joining with the Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis, and with Catholics all over the world – as fellow travellers on the Way of the Lord, the Lord of Mercy and compassion.
Today we are reaching out, humbly and earnestly, to receive from Him the strength to overcome our weaknesses and the assurance of His merciful forgiveness. Mercy and forgiveness are at the very heart of the story of salvation. God is always merciful to mankind. God is mercy. God’s mercy is for us. God’s mercy is for us to share.
We know it is the Lord’s wish, that as we direct our toes homeward this evening, we will each be determined to make our homes, our parishes, our communities and our associations into centres of mercy, mirroring His mercy to us.
Today, we walk through the special Door of Mercy opened in our cathedral to mark our resolve. Hopefully those of us who can, will, later in the year, walk through the special Door of Mercy at the Basilica on Lough Derg which will be opened by the Papal Nuncio before the start of the pilgrimage season there.
The motto and logo for this Holy Year which the Lord has inspired, will remind us during this Year of Mercy that it is God’s love for us and our love for God which brings the mystery of the incarnation to its fulfilment in the redemption.
Lord, on this special day, as we pray in our Cathedral Church, we invite you to complete the work you have begun work in us.
During this special year of grace teach us to trust you.
Smile on us with a mother’s love when we need to forgive ourselves.
Remind us of your forgiveness to us when we need to forgive others.
Inspire and console us as we reflect on the compassion you lavished on so many.
Teach us to imitate your courage and generous love.
Help us to be missionaries of mercy, in our homes, parishes, and in our diocese, Amen.
For further information: Clogher Diocesan Office, Tel. 047-81019. Email: [email protected]
For photographs of the Opening of the Door of Mercy please contact Rory Geary on +353 87 2399260
Notes to editors
- The Year of Mercy has been proclaimed by Pope Francis as a worldwide jubilee of mercy. It lasts until Sunday 20 November 2016.
- Each cathedral church and at other notable places of pilgrimage will have a Door of Mercy, similar to those in the Papal Basilicas in Rome. These will be the focus and goal of pilgrimages for the duration of the Holy Year.
- The motto for the Jubilee is ‘Merciful like the Father’. Based on Saint Luke’s gospel (chapter 6) it draws people to Jesus as the face of the mercy of God. The logo was designed by Slovenian Jesuit Father Marko Rupnik, who also designed the interior of the chapel of the Irish College in Rome.
- The Diocese of Clogher has a Catholic population of 86,047: there are 37 parishes in the diocese which has 85 churches and the Patron Saint is Saint Macartan. Clogher is a cross-border diocese which includes counties Monaghan, most of Fermanagh and portions of Tyrone, Donegal, Louth and Cavan. Bishop Liam MacDaid has been bishop of the diocese since July 2010.
For media contact: Catholic Communications Office Maynooth: Martin Long 00353 (0) 86 172 7678 and Brenda Drumm 00353 (0) 87 310 4444