During the Year of Mercy, which began on December 8, 2015 there will be an icon on the door of the Confession Room of every parish in the diocese. It will be a simple invitation for us to open the door of mercy by receiving the sacrament of reconciliation. It is a simple cross. It's symbol shows what is at the heart of this special Holy Year. It is a call to come home, a declaration that all are invited to return to Christ and to His church. Respond to the invitation.
We have designated the door on the left side of the vestibule as the Holy Door for the Holy Year of Mercy. We have formally opened it and it remain so until the feast of Christ the King in November. The use of the Holy Door during the Holy Year dates back to the Book fo Liviticus in the Old Testament. It went with the celebration of a Jubilee Year which is celebrated every 50 years. In between, the door was literally sealed with bricks. Usually the only Holy Door is located in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome and in order to receive the graces offered during the holy year one needed to make a pilgrimage to Rome in order to take part. The idea of pilgrimage, a sacred journey to a sacred place was popular through the centuries. People have done it through the years. Visiting the shrines of Europe like Lourdes or Fatima, or the shrines of Canada; St. Anne du Beaupre or Mexico like Guadalupe or the four major churches of Rome are examples of pilgrimages. Part of pilgrimage include, the reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, (not necessarily in the pilgrimage church) the Eucharist, prayer tor the intentions of the Holy Father and the performing of some works of charity. The idea of doing this every fifty years is to call us back to our Faith. We get so busy in the secular world that we don't think about sacred things. This year with its open door invites us to come and experience His mercy.
We have been designated one of the eight chruches in the Worcester Diocese to be a pilgrimage church for the Holy Year. All eight churches are:
St. Paul's Cathedral 15 Chatham St.,Worcester
St. Luke's Church 70 West Main St., Westboro
Sacred Heart Church 7 East Main St., Milford
Notre Dame Church at St. John Paul II Parish 446 Main St., Southbridge
Our Lady of the Rosary Church at Annunciation Parish 135 Nicholas St., Gardner
St. Joseph's Church 49 Woodland St., Fitchburg
St. Joseph's Basilica 53 Witcomb St., Webster
Mary Queen of the Rosary Parish 7 Church St., Spencer