Jubilee Year of Mercy Begins Today for the Catholic Church Around the World

Diocese of St. Augustine Begins Holy Year on December 13

Seeing the great need for mercy and healing in the world, Pope Francis has called for an Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy – a special period, also known as a Holy Year or Jubilee Year for the Catholic Church. It is a time for the Church across the world to take approximately a year to focus on forgiveness and healing in a special way.

The year begins today (Dec. 8 – on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception) in the Universal Church and in the local churches around the world on the Third Sunday of Advent (Dec. 13). The conclusion of the Year of Mercy will be Nov. 20, 2016 on the Solemnity of Christ the King.

Bishop Felipe J. Estévez of the Diocese of St. Augustine will mark the opening of the Jubilee Year of Mercy with a 5 p.m. Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine. (See schedule below for the Opening of the “Doors of Mercy” in seven Jubilee Churches designated in the diocese)

The purpose of the Jubilee Year is to help people grow spiritually, strengthen their faith, encourage works of service, and to promote unity within the Catholic Church and society in general.

Bishop Felipe Estévez addresses the students of Bishop Kenny High School during a Mass honoring the feast of the Immaculate Conception in Jacksonville | Photo by Brandon Duncan

Bishop Felipe Estévez addresses the students of Bishop Kenny High School during a Mass honoring the feast of the Immaculate Conception. | Photo by Brandon Duncan

Bishop Estévez, in his proclamation opening the Jubilee Year of Mercy, has invited the laity and the clergy of the diocese “to fully contemplate and embrace the message of biblical mercy.” He also invites those who have been hurt and suffered pain by the Church and its ministers to have a conversation with him during this time of mercy. “It is my sincere hope and prayer that all such conversations I may have with you, the faithful of the Diocese of St. Augustine, will be a step to sow the seeds of healing and reconciliation so that the peace of Christ will come to your heart,” he said.

Pope Francis, in his announcement of the Year of Mercy, has asked individuals in the Church “to be a witness of mercy” by reflecting on and practicing the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. Catholics are encouraged to join together in prayer, go to confession, and share their faith with others.

Just as Pope Francis will open the Holy Doors at Saint Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican today to mark the beginning of the Year of Mercy, Bishop Estévez will mark the inaugural event by Opening the “Doors of Mercy” at the Cathedral Basilica on Sunday, Dec.13 , at the 5 p.m. Mass.

From the Judeo-Christian tradition, doors are symbolic of conversion: a gesture of leaving the past behind, the crossing of a threshold from sin to grace. In an effort to extend the graces of the Year of Mercy to as many as possible, Pope Francis has granted authority to local bishops to designate churches and shrines in their dioceses to serve as Jubilee Churches and have a “Door of Mercy.”

In the Diocese of St. Augustine, Bishop Estévez has designated the following as Jubilee Churches. Each of them will celebrate the Solemn Opening of the “Doors of Mercy” at the following times on Sunday, Dec. 13:

Santa Fe Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche7:30 a.m.

St. Madeleine Sophie Catholic Church – Carmelite Father Sebastian George
17155 NW U.S. Highway 441, High Springs
(386) 454-2358

Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche9:00 a.m.
Mission Nombre de Dios – Shrine Rector, Father Ivan Carrillo-Paris, ICC
27 Ocean Avenue, St. Augustine
(904) 207-7117

St. Mary, Mother of Mercy Catholic Church10:00 a.m.
1143 W. Macclenny Avenue, Macclenny – Father Salwomir Bielasiewicz
(904) 259-2959

Basilica of the Immaculate Conception10:00 a.m.
121 E. Duval Street, Jacksonville – Father Edward Murphy
(904) 359-0331

St. Augustine Church & Catholic Student Center11:30 a.m.
1738 W. University Avenue, Gainesville – Father Marek Dzien
(352) 372-3533

Cathedral Basilica5:00 p.m.
Main Celebrant: Bishop Felipe Estévez
38 Cathedral Place, St. Augustine – Pastor, Father Thomas Willis

St. Joseph Carmelite Monastery Chapel5:00 p.m.
141 Carmelite Drive, Bunnell – Carmelite Brother Anthony Gemmato
(386) 437-2910

The public is invited to celebrate in these liturgies. A plenary indulgence for the Jubilee Year of Mercy may be obtained, under the usual conditions, for those who participate in any of these liturgies. For more information on indulgences and events planned in the diocese during the Jubilee Year of Mercy, visit www.dosayom.com or call Father Tom Willis, chair of the diocesan planning committee for the Year of Mercy, at (904) 824-2806 or email frtomstaug@gmail.com.