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Doors of Mercy to Open at St Mary's Cathedral on Sunday

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
9 Dec 2015

The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception marks the official opening of the Year of Mercy

The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception on 8th December 2015 was the beginning of an Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, which was officially launched with opening of the Holy Door in St Peter's Basilica in Rome by Pope Francis on this Marian feast day.

The Vatican Holy Door was last opened for the Jubilee Year of 2000, marking two millennia since the birth of Jesus. Since then it has remained cemented up, as is the custom, until the next Jubilee.

According to Jewish tradition, Jubilee years were celebrated every 50 years and in recent centuries the Church has declared them every 25 years to offer a holy year and the many graces attached to every generation.

Popes can call extraordinary Jubilees for important reasons or to mark significant milestones, for example the extraordinary Jubilee of the Holy Year of Redemption, called by Pope John Paul II in 1983 to mark 1,950 years since the death and resurrection of Christ.

A Jubilee or Holy Year is a year of forgiveness of sins, reconciliation, conversion and a renewed fervour of the faith, pointing ultimately to Christ who brings life and grace to humanity. The theme for the Jubliee year is "Merciful like the Father," and is depicted in the official logo for the Year of Mercy released by the Vatican.

In this extraordinary Year of Mercy, Pope Francis wishes to bring God's gift of mercy to the world in a new and dynamic way.

The Jubliee begins with opening of the Holy Door in St Peter's Basilica in Rome by Pope Francis

"I am confident that the whole Church, which is in such need of mercy for we are sinners, will be able to find in this Jubilee the joy of rediscovering and rendering fruitful God's mercy, with which we are all called to give comfort to every man and every woman of our time," Pope Francis declared in his announcement of the Jubilee year on the two year anniversary of his election.

Preparations are also under way in the Archdiocese of Sydney to usher in the Jubilee Year of Mercy with the opening of the Holy Door in St Mary's Cathedral on Sunday 13 December at the 10.30 Solemn Mass.

"My fervent prayer is for all of Sydney's Catholics to experience the loving mercy of God through the graces and initiatives of this Jubilee Year,"  Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP said.

"And I invite the people of the Archdiocese of Sydney to join me for the opening of the Holy Door of St Mary's Cathedral."

A Year of Mercy Working Party has been established to plan the Archdiocese of Sydney's response to the Jubilee Year of Mercy. Sr Moira Debono, a Sister of Mercy is chairing the working party which is assisting parishioners, members of school communities and those working for or with the Church to experience the loving mercy of God through the graces and initiatives of this dedicated year.

During the Year of Mercy, Catholics are invited to return to the Sacraments - in particular the Sacrament of Confession. One of the highlights of the Jubilee Year will be the celebration of "24 Hours for the Lord" with a penitential liturgy in St. Peter's Basilica in Lent 2016, during which the Holy Father will invite Churches around the world to open their doors for 24 hours and make the Sacrament of Confession available in their local dioceses. 

Catholics are also invited to live out the Year of Mercy in a very practical way by the taking part in the "works of mercy". These include the "corporal" works of mercy (feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, visit the sick, visit the imprisoned, bury the dead), and the "spiritual" works of mercy (counsel the doubtful, instruct the ignorant, admonish sinners, comfort the afflicted, forgive offenses, bear wrongs patiently, pray for the living and the dead).

The Archdiocese of Sydney will be announcing more events to mark the Year of Mercy in coming weeks and months. All are welcome to attend opening of the Holy Door in St Mary's Cathedral this Sunday 13 December at the 10.30 Solemn Mass.