The door opened and the people streamed in, singing in full voice the Advent hymn, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”.
The occasion marked the inauguration of the Year of Mercy promulgated by Pope Francis, and as Bishop Bill said, “It’s very decent of Pope Francis to proclaim a Year of Mercy to coincide with the diocese’s 150 year celebrations.”
For members of the diocesan community, it was a joint celebration and the invitation had been extended to the entire community. For many of a certain age, memories were evoked of traditional processions for the feasts of Christ the King and Corpus Christi. Indeed the liturgy was followed by a veritable feast and there was toe-tapping Irish music, much catching up and conversation, and the opportunity for an ‘al fresco’ Rite of Penance.
Large banners depicting the episcopate of each of the diocese’s bishops were unveiled on the cathedral sanctuary and were then available for inspection after the liturgy.
In his homily, Bishop Bill used a very Australian summer analogy for what it means to be merciful: How many times would you say ‘yes’ to your neighbour’s request to borrow the whipper snipper? The first time, no worries, but then you have to ask for its return, weeks later. It’s not been cleaned…and then he asks again. You say ‘yes’. Again, you have to ask for its return, weeks later. It’s not been cleaned…and then he asks again. How many times do you say ‘yes’? Seventy times seven?
Of the Year of Mercy, which concludes on the Feast of Christ the King in November 2016, Bishop Bill said, “I hope it will profoundly deepen our understanding of what the gospel is about.”
All members of the Church of Maitland-Newcastle and its friends are invited to record all the ways they respond to Pope Francis' invitation to be merciful as God is merciful. As individuals and communities (schools, parishes, groups), let us undertake 150 acts of mercy – one for each year of our diocesan life.
There are two ways to record your acts of Mercy. We hope many of you will use both.
- Use #150ActsOfMercy which will provide us with a live feed on the diocesan website. We will all see the impact of our combined acts of contemplation and works of mercy and be encouraged by each other.
- Use this #150ActsOfMercy passport to stamp or mark each act of mercy and you may like to keep a personal journal for your own written record.
To learn more, please visit www.mn.catholic.org.au/yearofmercy