By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
On Nov. 20, Pope Francis closed the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica and concluded the Jubilee of Mercy. During the Jubilee Year of Mercy, Catholics in the Davenport Diocese embraced the idea of mercy through prayer, contemplation and action.
“The heart of the ‘Year of Mercy’ itself was a beautiful message highlighting and emphasizing the awesome love, compassion, and mercy of God,” said Father Rich Adam, rector and pastor of Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport.
Listed below are highlights of the Year of Mercy in the Diocese of Davenport:
• On Dec. 7, 2015, Bishop Martin Amos opened the Year of Mercy during a vigil Mass celebrating the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Sacred Heart Church in Newton. The celebration encompassed the Grinnell Deanery. The following evening, Bishop Amos opened the Year of Mercy during Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport on behalf of the Davenport Deanery.
• On Dec. 13, he opened the Holy Doors of Mercy at the cathedral, the mother church of the diocese and one of 10 pilgrimage sites for the diocese during the Year of Mercy. The other pilgrimage sites that opened Holy Doors on Dec. 13: Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace Church-Clinton; St. Mary Church-Pella; St. Mary Church-Nichols; St. Paul Church-Burlington; St. Mathias Church-Muscatine; St. Mary of the Visitation Church-Ottumwa; St. Anthony Church-Davenport; and St. Mary Church-Iowa City.
• The Sisters of St. Francis-Clinton offered a mercy-focused Advent retreat.
• Heeding Pope Francis’ call to perform corporal and spiritual works of mercy, many parishes, youth groups and schools organized opportunities for the faithful to learn about and practice such works. Some, such as Ss. Mary and Mathias Catholic School-Muscatine and the cluster parishes of Richmond, Riverside and Wellman, attempted to complete all seven corporal works of mercy.
• Eighth-graders from St. Joseph Catholic School-DeWitt had the opportunity to obtain a plenary indulgence during the Year of Mercy. They joined many other Catholics around the world in obtaining the indulgence by walking through the cathedral’s Holy Doors and receiving Communion and the sacrament of penance in addition to praying for the intentions of the Holy Father.
• The Congregation of the Humility of Mary in Davenport offered special prayer services throughout the year, had a monthly prayer of mercy, provided a lending library of books on mercy, and distributed Year of Mercy prayer cards.
• Junior high school-age youths took a “Mercy Walk” pilgrimage during the Junior High Youth Conference April 10 in Iowa City. Volunteers from the Diocesan Youth Ministry Committee offered the youths topics to reflect on along the way.
• Thirty pilgrims walked from the Holy Doors at St. Mary Parish-Iowa City to the Holy Doors at St. Mary Parish-Nichols on May 30 — a 22-mile journey.
• Deacons and priests from the Grinnell Deanery formed a Mercy Team, which offered mercy-focused liturgies at a different parish every month or so.
• Parishes fed the hungry, gave drink to the thirsty and sheltered the homeless, so to speak, by opening their doors to RAGBRAI participants at the end of July.
• The Diocese of Davenport hosted a Ministry in Motion conference July 30 at St. Ambrose University in Davenport.
• The Catholic Messenger hosted a Year of Mercy pilgrimage to Rome and Assisi and had the privilege of attending the canonization Mass for St. Teresa of Kolkata on Sept. 4.
• Ss. Mary and Mathias Parish hosted a God’s Healing Mercy mission Sept. 12-14.
• Pope Francis also encouraged Catholics to seek the sacrament of reconciliation. Priests of the Iowa City Deanery heard confessions for 24 hours in December 2015. Other priests worked to build awareness of confession times in their parishes.
• Pope Francis brought additional attention to the sacrament of reconciliation by commissioning Missionaries of Mercy during an Ash Wednesday ceremony in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome on Feb. 10. Fathers David Brownfield and Marty Goetz of the Davenport Diocese were among the priests designated as Missionaries of Mercy. Fr. Brownfield said of his role, “One reason the Holy Father appointed us was to encourage a return to the sacrament of reconciliation. It was gladdening to hear the confession of people who have been away for many years. The Holy Father was successful in getting some people to return to the sacrament.”