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The Most Rev. David L. Ricken is the 12th bishop of the Diocese of Green Bay.

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The Jubilee Year of Mercy

By Bishop David Ricken | December 2, 2015

A Jubilee Year typically happens every 25 years. However, our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has called for a special Jubilee Year of Mercy for the church. He calls for an extraordinary Jubilee Year to focus on the mercy and love of Jesus. It will be a year of special grace and forgiveness, pardoning of debts and bountiful gestures of compassion and generosity.

Today, in the Diocese of Green Bay, we find ourselves amidst the second year of our diocesan journey, “Disciples on the Way,” with its emphasis on household prayer. This year we are focusing on a more prayer-filled life at home. It will coincide beautifully with the pope’s call for a Jubilee Year of Mercy.

Pope Francis will begin this special Jubilee Year of Mercy on Dec. 8 in Rome at St. Peter’s Basilica by opening and crossing the threshold of the “Holy Door” to St. Peter’s Basilica. One entrance to the Basilica will be designated “The Holy Door” and it will be specially blessed. It will be offered for all pilgrims to pass through symbolizing a new resolve to love God and neighbor more compassionately and generously.

Our Holy Father has asked that each bishop also designate a “Holy Door” at their diocesan cathedral, along with any officially designated shrines within the diocese. I have designated a “Holy Door” for each of these sacred locations in the Diocese of Green Bay.

Holy Doors in diocese

On Dec. 13, the diocese will honor the pope’s request by opening a “Holy Door” to St. Francis Xavier Cathedral, the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in Champion and the Shrine of St. Joseph; now located in Old St. Joe’s Church at St. Norbert College in De Pere. During the Jubilee Year of Mercy, you will have the opportunity to receive many graces when you cross the threshold of these “Holy Doors.”

Crossing the thresholds should also include devout Mass attendance, devout prayer and receiving the sacrament of reconciliation (confession) either at that same visit or shortly before or after at your home parish. Your prayerful pilgrimage to one of these “Holy Doors,” either at our mother church, St. Francis Xavier Cathedral, or one of the shrines of the diocese, will provide you the opportunity to receive an indulgence, which is a special grace.

Prayer seminars

During the Jubilee Year of Mercy, I will be offering a prayer seminar in three different locations in the diocese to teach people to pray and meditate and to understand more deeply the church’s prayer to Divine Mercy. Several prayer seminars will also be offered by religious orders and qualified lay persons in the diocese.

Homilies will be enriched by reflections offered on prayer and mercy. Our priests and deacons will be provided special resources to assist them in bringing their parishioners to a greater realization of the abundance of God’s mercy, knowing it is always so freely offered to them by Jesus Christ. There will be regular reference made to the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. These works of mercy, which are the church’s way of expressing important Gospel and discipleship values, need to be practiced habitually until they become virtues in our prayer-filled lives.

Dedicating families to the Holy Family

On Dec. 27, all of the families and parishes of the diocese will be invited to dedicate their family to the Holy Family. They will ask Jesus, Mary and Joseph to protect them and to guide them to a more prayerful home as individuals and as families.

During this time of dedication, let us pray for mercy and forgiveness among our family members and in our parishes. Everyone is encouraged to renew their friendship with Jesus during this year by praying more and praying with greater intimacy and intensity.

All parishioners are encouraged to attend their parish holy hour once a month to pray for themselves, their family, pastor and staff, their community, our diocese and our country. There will be special reflections during the holy hour on the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. Additionally, I will reflect monthly, in my Compass column on one or two of these works of mercy.

Pope Francis has shared that there will be many surprises during this Jubilee Year of Mercy. I ask you, with a joyful heart, that you please join me, through this next year, to pray for great renewal and flowing graces for all in our families, and in our households, our diocese and the church throughout the world! May God bless you!

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