Local Catholics celebrate opening of Door of Mercy at Our Mother of Mercy Church

by Susan Moses

Correspondent

North Texas Catholic

December 14, 2015

Hundreds of lay faithful wait to enter the Door of Mercy opened Dec. 13 by Bishop Michael Olson at Our Mother of Mercy Parish in Fort Worth. (Photo by Juan Guajardo / NTC)
Hundreds of lay faithful wait to enter the Door of Mercy opened Dec. 13 by Bishop Michael Olson at Our Mother of Mercy Parish in Fort Worth. (Photo by Juan Guajardo / NTC)

With three sharp raps of his crosier, or bishop’s staff, Bishop Michael Olson opened the Door of Mercy at Our Mother of Mercy Church in Fort Worth, ushering in the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy to our community.

This holy year which emphasizes God’s grace and reconciliation began with a blessing of the doors followed by a Mass overflowing with pilgrims from throughout the diocese.

Themes of mercy and joy prevailed throughout the Mass, which was celebrated Dec. 13, the third Sunday of Advent, known as Gaudate Sunday for its focus on joy.

The bishop explained that joy is neither the experience of pleasure nor the self-satisfaction of a steady job and good health. Instead, joy is the knowledge that Jesus is coming to us and for us. Joy arrives with mercy in swaddling clothes, in the person of Jesus.

“As the baptized, we have experienced mercy offered and mercy received. Now we have the responsibility to open the door and share the gift of mercy to the alienated and the wounded,” Bishop Olson said in his homily.

Showing mercy is a courageous act, the bishop said, which Jesus demonstrated perfectly by taking on the wounds of the cross because of his love for us and out of obedience to the Father.

“Where there are wounds, there is also the healing and grace of God,” continued Bishop Olson. He encouraged the congregation to exhibit mercy in their personal wounds, the wounds in their parish, and the wounds in the diocese and larger community.

Bishop Olson gives a special jubilee blessing at the end of Mass Dec. 13. (Photo by Juan Guajardo / NTC)
A view of the Door of Mercy at Our Mother of Mercy Parish. (Photo by Juan Guajardo / NTC)

Pope Francis proclaimed an Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy that began Dec. 8, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. “From the heart of the Trinity, from the depths of the mystery of God, the great river of mercy wells up and overflows unceasingly. It is a spring that will never run dry, no matter how many people draw from it. Every time someone is in need, he or she can approach it because the mercy of God never ends,” wrote Pope Francis in Misericordiae Vultus.

The pope opened the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome and announced that each diocese would designate a church of special significance during the Year of Mercy, to be opened Dec. 13.

Bishop Olson selected Our Mother of Mercy, stating “Since its establishment in 1929, the parishioners, religious sisters, and priests of Our Mother of Mercy have faithfully serviced and witnessed to God’s abundant mercy most fully expressed through the gift of his Son, Jesus Christ. They have done this through service in education and outreach to the Catholic and broader African-American communities with a spirit of inclusion of all people.”

Floyd Ware, a parishioner and musician at Our Mother of Mercy, said, “The announcement that we were chosen as the principal church for the Year of Mercy was unexpected, but we are honored and we welcome visitors with open arms. Opening the Door of Mercy today was a good start, and we look forward to bigger things.”

During the jubilee year, pilgrims visiting Our Mother of Mercy or other pilgrimage churches designated by the bishop may receive an indulgence. To receive the plenary indulgence, the visitor must pass through the Door of Mercy, receive the sacraments of the Eucharist and Reconciliation, and pray for the intentions of the pope.

In Misericordiae Vultus, the announcement of the Year of Mercy, Pope Francis explained the tradition of indulgences during a Jubilee. “To live the indulgence of the Holy Year means to approach the Father’s mercy with the certainty that his forgiveness extends to the entire life of the believer. To gain an indulgence is to experience the holiness of the Church, who bestows upon all the fruits of Christ’s redemption, so that God’s love and forgiveness may extend everywhere.”

Our Mother of Mercy parishioner Marie Guidry said, “Bishop Olson opening the Door of Mercy was a blessed experience. It was symbolic, but I hope we internalize it and turn it toward more goodness in the world. We need to understand that our own point of view is not the most important. We need to seek to understand those who are different from us. This can bring hope to the whole world.”

Bishop Olson prays with the faithful in attendance after opening the Door of Mercy. (Photo by Juan Guajardo / NTC)

Guidry’s thoughts seemed to echo Pope Francis’ as he expressed the desire for people to become more merciful in their own lives and to bring the mercy of God to others.

He wrote in Misericordiae Vultus, “We must admit that the practice of mercy is waning in the wider culture. In some cases the word seems to have dropped out of use. However, without a witness to mercy, life becomes fruitless and sterile, as if sequestered in a barren desert.

“The time has come for the Church to take up the joyful call to mercy once more. It is time to return to the basics and to bear the weaknesses and struggles of our brothers and sisters. Mercy is the force that reawakens us to new life and instills in us the courage to look to the future with hope.”

Jubilee Churches designated by Bishop Olson for the Year of Mercy

Northwest Deanery - St. Mary, Windthorst
Southwest Deanery - Our Lady of Lourdes, Mineral Wells
South Deanery - St. Frances Cabrini, Granbury
West Central Deanery - Holy Redeemer Aledo
East Central Deanery - Christ the King, Fort Worth
Arlington Deanery - St. Matthew, Arlington
Northeast Deanery - St. Catherine of Siena, Carrollton
North Deanery - St. Thomas Aquinas, Pilot Point
Principal Jubilee Church – Our Mother of Mercy, Fort Worth

With three sharp raps of his crosier, or bishop’s staff, Bishop Michael Olson opened the Door of Mercy at Our Mother of Mercy Church in Fort Worth, ushering in the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy to our community.

Published (until 12/27/2035)
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