by Joe Bollig
GARDNER — The end of the jubilee Year of Mercy was symbolized on Nov. 13 by the closing of the six Holy Doors in the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.
One door, at Divine Mercy Parish in Gardner, was reopened the evening of Nov. 19 to accommodate the sixth and final Jubilee Year pilgrimage sponsored by the archdiocesan Hispanic ministry.
“The majority of our pilgrimages were in Kansas City, so we came south [to Gardner] to give a greater opportunity for people who live further south, like in Emporia,” said Father Gianantonio Baggio, CS, director of archdiocesan Hispanic ministry.
Divine Mercy was not only chosen for geographical convenience, but also for the symbolism of the parish being named after the Divine Mercy devotion, he said.
Pope Francis said Catholics could obtain a plenary indulgence during the Year of Mercy by passing through a Holy Door or performing one of the corporal or spiritual works of mercy.
The pilgrim also had to meet certain conditions: possess an interior disposition of complete detachment from sin, receive the sacrament of reconciliation and the Eucharist, and pray for the intentions of the Holy Father.
“I think it’s a positive thing,” said Nancy Gonzalez, a pilgrim from All Saints Parish in Kansas City, Kansas. “It’s been a rough year for everyone. What better way to put an end to it than with the gift of mercy?”
“I feel like so much of today’s youth are so disconnected from God and the church,” she continued. “I feel like having a Year of Mercy could help bring the youth back. For people to attend church regularly — it’s a good reminder that God is mercy and love.”
More than 250 pilgrims processed from the Divine Mercy Parish Christian Formation Center to the church. There, they had the opportunity to receive the sacrament of reconciliation and participate in eucharistic adoration.
Next, Archbishop Emeritus James P. Keleher celebrated the Mass in Spanish, with Father Gianantonio concelebrating.
In his homily, given in Spanish, Archbishop Keleher talked about mercy and the jubilee year.
“Pope Francis, in one of his experiences as archbishop of Buenos Aires, said he could never forget the testimony of a Capuchin friar who wondered if he was too lenient in the confessional,” said Archbishop Keleher.
“Bishop Bergoglio, at the time, asked him what he did when such scruples arose,” the archbishop continued, “and the friar replied, ‘I go before the tabernacle to tell Jesus, ‘Lord, forgive me, because I have forgiven too much — but you were the one to give me the bad example!’”
Although the Holy Year has come to a close, this does not mean that the Lord’s mercy is closed, added Archbishop Keleher. Nor does it mean that we have finished our task of doing the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.
Rather, this Holy Year must inspire us to learn more about how to be merciful in imitation of the divine mercy, he said.
After the dismissal, everyone exited the church through the Holy Door, after which it was solemnly closed. Archbishop Keleher led the people in prayer and blessed rosaries and posters of the Divine Mercy image, which were distributed to the pilgrims.
A reception in the Christian Formation Center followed.