By TAMI QUIGLEY Staff writer
“Today we celebrate the solemnity of our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe and the closing of the Jubilee Year of Mercy,” said Bishop John Barres, main celebrant of the closing Mass for the Jubilee Year of Mercy Nov. 20 at the Cathedral of St. Catharine of Siena, Allentown.
On April 11, 2015 Pope Francis declared the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy to begin Dec. 8, 2015 and end Nov. 20, 2016.
Msgr. Francis Schoenauer, pastor of the cathedral, concelebrated. Deacon John Rother, transitional deacon, and Deacon Robert Snyder assisted. Father Kevin Lonergan assistant pastor of the cathedral, was episcopal master of ceremonies. The Cathedral Choir, directed by Beverly McDevitt, provided music for the liturgy.
Bishop Barres said the 23rd chapter of the Gospel of Luke shows us how Jesus reigns from Calvary. “He reigns from the Cross of Mercy.”
The bishop said we see this in a conversation on Calvary. “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
“The contrast between the agony of crucifixion in the present and the promise of being in paradise with the Lord later in the day is so powerful and so moving for all of us each time we hear this passage proclaimed,” Bishop Barres said.
“As we carry the mysterious Cross of Mercy in our own lives on this earth, we are strengthened by the merciful and peaceful face of the risen Christ leading us to eternal life.”
Bishop Barres said that morning, a bit before 4 a.m. Eastern time, he watched Pope Francis close the Door of Mercy at the entrance to St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
“While the Jubilee Year is over and the Door of Mercy has been physically closed, we continue to open the doors of mercy in our lives that Christ stands at at each moment and in each day of our lives,” he said.
“We open the Doors of Mercy of our parishes and this Cathedral of St. Catharine of Siena daily to the mercy of Christ expressed in the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. And in a special way today, we stand with the martyred and persecuted Christian families of the Middle East.
“We open the doors of mercy of our confessionals with the inspired understanding that the sacrament of penance is the epicenter of Christ’s mercy working through the church to the world.
“We open the doors of mercy in our homes to a new living of the Gospel parable of the Good Samaritan, realizing that when we live the spirit of the Good Samaritan in our marriages and families, we will live it so much more deeply and effectively with the entire human family.
“We open the doors of mercy where we work when we mentor, support, build a bridge or listen to a colleague.”
Bishop Barres said as we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King and anticipate the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, “We remember the Mexican martyrs of the 1920s who helped inspire Pope Pius XI in 1925 to institute this liturgical celebration of Christ the King.”
The bishop said it was Mexican martyrs like the Jesuit Blessed Miguel Pro, who at the moment of their executions, shouted joyfully and courageously from the rooftops of the world in a way that rings around the world even today, “Que Vive Cristo Rey y La Virgen de Guadalupe!”/“Long live Christ the King and the Virgin of Guadalupe!”
Bishop Barres said we go to these Mexican martyrs and to the intercession of the saints of North, Central and South America as we rejoice in the gift of our Latino families in the Diocese of Allentown.
“Just as the humble St. Juan Diego unfurled the beautiful multi-colored image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, so too has Christ Our King unfurled in the Church of the United States of America the rich multi-colored tilma of the vibrant Catholic faith of our Latino families which enriches and strengthens every dimension of our Church’s life,” he said.
“So together we move forward into the future of the mission of the church in the world, a future which expresses that mercy is the beating heart of the Gospel and that mercy is at the heart of the mission of the church in the world.”
Special activities in diocese during Year of Mercy
Diocesan-sponsored events for the Year of Mercy included an opening and closing Mass, Lenten Day of Mercy, 24 hours of confessions during Lent in every deanery, articles and a special logo in The A.D. Times , displaying the Mercy Cross on confessional doors throughout the entire Year of Mercy.
Also, Year of Mercy parchment in every parish/high school/diocesan office, diocesan prayer card, parishes having extra time for confessions throughout the year and a diocesan Year of Mercy Pilgrimage to the National Shrine of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, D.C.
“For Catholic Charities, we focused on a few special Year of Mercy activities,” said Pam Russo, secretary of the diocesan Secretariat for Human Services and executive director of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Allentown.
“In July, we held the Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat weekends in English and Spanish for anyone affected by abortion. We offered ‘scholarships’ for those who could not afford to attend.
“Also in July, we hosted groups from Catholic Heart Work Camp at Catholic Charities’ Community Center. As part of the Year of Mercy, we wanted a mural painted that would articulate the love and caring for our neighbors in need. The students painted two beautiful murals,” Russo said.
“We worked with several schools throughout the year to ‘Feed the Hungry/Give Drink to the Thirsty’ – whereby the schools held several food drives for emergency pantries.”
Finally, a staff retreat was held in October that focused on the Year of Mercy. Father Andrew Gehringer, pastor of Holy Infancy, Bethlehem, was featured presenter for the retreat at St. Francis Center for Renewal, Monocacy Manor, Bethlehem.
Mary Fran Hartigan, secretary of the diocesan Secretariat for Catholic Life and Evangelization, listed the secretariat’s events and offers for the Year of Mercy: Faith and Spirits: Father Forgive Them: The Role of Forgiveness, March 7; Apologetics Forum: Indulgences, June 2.
Also, Faith and Spirits: Lourdes Virtual Pilgrimage, Sept. 15; Hope for the Suffering, Oct. 3; Apologetics Forum: Socialism and Catholicism, Oct. 12; Men’s Conference: Encounter Mercy and Truth, Nov. 5; Girl Scout Jubilee Year of Mercy Event, Nov. 19.
The Diocesan Year of Mercy website page listed a theme each month, and the monthly Adult Formation Newsletter contained a Year of Mercy Reflection that focused on the monthly theme.
To focus on the gift of mercy, Father Bernard Ezaki, assistant pastor of St. Jane Frances de Chantal, Easton, composed A Prayer for Mercy.
In addition, many parishes in the diocese hosted special observances and devotions.