For engaged couple, jubilee year always will be part of their love story

IMAGE: CNS photo/Dave Hrbacek, The Catholic Spirit

By Matthew Davis

(CNS) — Hundreds filled the front steps of the Basilica of St. Mary in
Minneapolis Nov. 20 following Mass to witness the closing of the church’s Holy
Doors, marking the end of the Catholic Church’s Jubilee Year of Mercy.

them were Jonathan Thompson and Julia Waletzko, who had held hands and grinned
as they passed through the doors a final time. The pair, who met at the basilica
at a Bible study on Valentine’s Day, had gotten engaged just hours earlier.

closing of the Holy Doors was a big draw,” Thompson said of the couple’s
decision to attend the closing Mass. “It was such a peaceful experience.”

Bernard A. Hebda of St. Paul and Minneapolis presided at the evening Mass and
then invited the congregation to process out of the Holy Doors before he
ceremoniously closed them. With the Cathedral of St. Paul and St. Maron in
Minneapolis, the basilica was one of three local churches with designated Holy
Doors for the jubilee year.

ritual was repeated at cathedrals and basilicas across the United States as the
Year of Mercy, which began in December 2015, came to a close on the feast of
Christ the King.

Francis called for the special year to highlight God’s mercy for all people. Dioceses
throughout the world hosted activities focused on the works of mercy, increased
time available for confessions and opened designated holy doors for pilgrims.

the Vatican, as he officially closed the extraordinary jubilee celebration, Pope
Francis said: “We have received mercy in order to be merciful.” In his
homily, he said that “the true door of mercy, which is the heart of
Christ, always remains open wide for us.”

the year, by passing through a Holy Door, people could receive a plenary
indulgence, the remission of temporal punishment due to sin, if they also
fulfilled other conditions: reception of the sacraments of penance and the
Eucharist, visits and prayers for the intention of the pope and performing
simple acts such as visiting the sick.

Washington, Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the U.S. Archdiocese of the
Military Services celebrated the closing Mass for the special year and closed
the Holy Doors at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate

his homily, he echoed the pope’s words about God’s mercy always being

the Holy Door in no way signifies that divine mercy is no longer available to
us,” Archbishop Broglio said. “On the contrary, now that we have tasted what
the Lord can do for us, the new liturgical year that opens next Sunday should
be an invitation to deepen our experience of Christ and hold out his mercy to

is never too late to beg for mercy from the Lord and no one is beyond
redemption. Look up at Jesus and know that he calls us to him,” he said.

the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, church officials launched two initiatives to
mark the close of the jubilee year: Mercy Fund, to support the work of
chaplains in prisons and hospitals, and “By Your Side LA,” an outreach to women
and men affected by abortion. The initiatives will “continue and expand the
mission of mercy” throughout the three counties that make up the archdiocese —
Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara.

Year of Mercy has been a special blessing for all of us here in Los Angeles –-
a time for rediscovering the great love that God has for us as our heavenly
Father and the importance of living with love and mercy toward our brothers and
sisters,” said Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez. “As we close the Year of
Mercy, we want to give thanks to God for his love and we want to rededicate
ourselves to being missionaries of his mercy -– in our homes, in the places
where we work, and in every area of our society.”

gathered at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles for the
closing Mass celebrated by the archbishop. After Communion, Archbishop Gomez
led Massgoers in a procession outside to the Cathedral Plaza for a final
blessing and closing of the “Archway of Mercy.”

Tennessee, Nashville Bishop David R. Choby celebrated a closing Mass at the
Cathedral of the Incarnation. As a final event of the special year, the diocese
held a memorial service Nov. 22 at the Catholic Pastoral Center for those whose
loved ones had died in the last year.

think people embraced it,” Father Jayd Neely, pastor of St. Mary of the Seven
Sorrows Church in downtown Nashville, said of the Year of Mercy. “Mercy is a
theme that resonates with everybody.”

last May, Aimee Shelide Mayer, program coordinator for social concerns and
advocacy at Catholic Charities of Tennessee, organized an event each month reflecting
one of the church’s corporal works of mercy.

event at the Loaves and Fishes program, which provides meals for the poor and
homeless, fit well with “feed the hungry,” she said. Another was a drive that
collected more than 8,300 diapers for the adoptions assistance program (“I was
naked and you clothed me.”) Still another was visiting the homebound through
the Living at Home program (“I was in prison and you visited me.”)

the Archdiocese of Miami, parishioners of St. Mark Church in Southwest Ranches,
Florida, marked the closing of the year with a recent six-mile pilgrimage
enter through the Holy Doors at St. Anthony Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Participants included members of the parish’s middle and high school youth
groups, along with their families.

Anthony was one of six designated pilgrimage churches in the archdiocese for
the Jubilee Year of Mercy.

is a great finish to the Jubilee Year of Mercy for the youth of St. Mark,” said
Father Jaime “Jimmy” Acevedo, St. Mark’s pastor. “We are a pilgrim church to
the new Jerusalem, (made) possible only by our merciful God, and what better
way than to walk to the Holy Door of mercy.”

the Diocese of Brooklyn, New York, Auxiliary Bishop Neil E. Tiedemann celebrated
a special liturgy with more than 900 people at Regina Pacis Basilica in Bensonhurst.
It was one of six diocesan churches that were the sites of Holy Doors
throughout the year.

gather in prayer and thanksgiving for the many blessings you and I have
experienced as we passed through these doors,” said Bishop Tiedemann. “Now you
and I are to bring that mercy that we received to the world and we are to be
instruments of mercy and forgiveness. We are sent out through the doors of

in Minneapolis, the jubilee year will forever be part of Thompson and Waletzko’s
love story.

purposely tied his proposal to its final day. Earlier this year, he and his
bride-to-be passed through Holy Doors thousands of miles apart, but they
concluded the year walking through Holy Doors together.

parishioner of Maternity of Mary in St. Paul, Thompson went through the basilica’s
Holy Doors for the first time on Valentine’s Day and had been praying for
clarity in God’s plan for his life.

night he met Waletzko, a basilica parishioner, who had recently returned from a
pilgrimage to the Holy Land where she had gone through Holy Doors at the
Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth. She, too, had been praying about what
God wanted for her life, she said.

just amazing what happened in the last year, not even, 10 months since I went
through those other Holy Doors,” Waletzko told The Catholic Spirit, the
archdiocesan newspaper.

his homily, Archbishop Hebda emphasized that mercy must continue beyond the

a people, we have been celebrating throughout this Year of Mercy that our God
is a God of mercy and that Jesus, God made flesh, is the very face of mercy,” he

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is on the staff of The Catholic Spirit, newspaper of the Archdiocese of St.
Paul and Minneapolis. Contributing to this report were Andy Telli in Nashville
and staff of The Tablet in the Brooklyn Diocese.

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