by Joe Bollig
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The pews might be a little more crowded at St. Paul Parish in Olathe and at Sts. Peter and Paul Parish in Seneca for Masses this weekend. On Jan. 24 and 25, the church celebrates the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, and archdiocesan Catholics have the opportunity to receive a plenary indulgence offered to the faithful in commemoration of the Year of St. Paul.
Last year, Pope Benedict XVI declared that the church would have a special jubilee year — from June 28, 2008, to June 29, 2009 — in honor of St. Paul the Apostle. As in other jubilee years, the Holy Father stipulated that the faithful may receive a plenary indulgence by meeting certain requirements.
The requirements of the indulgence can be met, for example, by making a pilgrimage to the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, in Rome.
Can’t make it to Rome? No problem.
Those unable to visit Rome during the Year of St. Paul can also receive the plenary indulgence by going to confession, receiving Communion, and praying for the pope’s intentions. They must also be detached from sin and devoutly take part in some public celebration, liturgy, or event in honor of St. Paul on the opening and closing days of the Pauline Year, as well as other days and places designated by the local bishop.
That’s where this upcoming weekend comes in. Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann has designated the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, celebrated on Jan. 24 and 25, as an occasion on which the plenary indulgence may be obtained.
Although each pastor is free to decide whether to celebrate that Sunday as the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time or as the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, at least two pastors will be facilitating the special indulgence: the pastors of Sts. Peter and Paul in Seneca and St. Paul Parish in Olathe.
“We will offer confessions a half hour prior to each Mass, because part of the plenary indulgence is the opportunity to receive the sacrament of reconciliation,” said Father John Torres, pastor of St. Paul Parish.
Masses at the Olathe parish are at 5 p.m. on Saturday, and at 7 a.m., 9 a.m., 11 a.m. (in Spanish), and 6 p.m. on Sunday.
“For us here, the Conversion of St. Paul is an opportunity to think about what it means to undergo conversion,” said Father Torres. “It’s not something done on our part one time. It’s an invitation to undergo conversion every day.”
The Masses at the Seneca parish will be held at 5 p.m. on Saturday, and at 7, 9, and 11 on Sunday morning. Confessions will be heard from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.
“This is a great opportunity to bring some attention to our sinfulness and to understand our relationship to God,” said Father Mike Koller, pastor of Sts. Peter and Paul. “We look at the life of St. Paul and the challenges he faced as Christ worked through him. The example of St. Paul’s life invites us to ask ourselves if we are willing to allow Christ to work through us in our daily lives.”
Can’t make it to Rome, Seneca or Olathe? Again, no problem.
Those who are confined to their homes due to illness or any other restrictive reason are able to receive the indulgence if they maintain a spirit of detachment from sin and intend to fulfill the usual conditions as soon as possible, as well as spiritually unite themselves to a jubilee celebration in honor of St. Paul.