With a population of fewer than 400 people, the tiny town of Nichols generally doesn’t get much attention. But its Catholic parish, St. Mary, received a big honor when Bishop Martin Amos and the priests of the Iowa City Deanery chose the parish as a pilgrimage site for the Jubilee Year of Mercy. In the months that followed, people from all over the country visited the rural parish.
“Around 550 people from California to Florida recorded their names and comments in the guestbook,” said parish coordinator Carol Kaalberg. Comments included: “God brought me here;” “It feels like home;” “Beautiful sacred space;” and “I finally took time to pray.”
Catholics in and around Nichols had opportunities to reflect on their faith during the Year of Mercy with eucharistic adoration and benediction the first Sunday of the month. Although the year of Mercy has come to a close, parishioners have asked Father Mike Spiekermeier to continue the practice.
Kaalberg is thankful for the parish’s opportunity to serve as a pilgrimage site. “We experienced the healing gift of God’s mercy and unconditional love through visiting with our many guests. We heard stories of change, the comfort of receiving the sacrament of reconciliation once again, the power of prayer and silence, and the importance of taking time to be present to one another and to our God. It truly was a year of mercy and of God working within his people as we all walk the journey of life together.”