Annual Faith Celebrations

Annual Faith Celebrations

The theme of World Youth Day 2017 was taken from Our Lady’s song of praise, the Magnificat, ‘The Mighty One has done great things for me’. The Pope has chosen to focus on Mary for the next two years’ World Youth celebrations, culminating in Panama in 2019. Francis has asked young people to journey with Mary, describing her as ‘a role model to be imitated’. Consequently we have decided to continue our ‘Year of …’ plans with a Year of Mary. Each month is linked to a virtue shown by Mary and celebrates her many names.

January ~ LovingFebruary ~ CharitableMarch ~ Faith filled
April ~ ObedientMay ~ Showing humilityJune ~ Generous
July ~ GratefulSeptember ~ WiseOctober ~ Attentive
November ~ CompassionateDecember ~ Hopeful

Year of Oscar Romero (2017)

In 2017 we will participate with the diocese in celebrating the centenary of Blessed Oscar Romero’s birth. Archbishop Romero was one of one of the most remarkable figures of the 20th Century, who deserves to be remembered alongside the likes of Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Theresa as a peacemaker who sacrificed his life standing up to injustice. The world today desperately needs more figures like Romero – leaders with the courage, faith and love to stand up for the poor against injustice. Romero is, in particular, an inspirational figure to hundreds of millions of Catholics around the world. He didn’t simply talk about the need to love your neighbour, but courageously named the injustices that plagued his country. He reminded us that Christ is found in people living in poverty, and that we cannot ignore the suffering of our brothers and sisters in need. We can all celebrate Romero’s legacy by following his example: by challenging injustice wherever we see it and by refusing to stay silent about the issues that keep people in poverty. Monthly Focus Throughout the year there will be a monthly focus linked to the life and sayings of Blessed Oscar Romero. Each month a different year group will be presenting an assembly on each theme:

Month Focus: January – Introduction February – Light March – Poverty April – Cross May – Church June – Pray and Share July – Aspire not to have more September – Peace October – It is not God’s will for some to have everything November – Remembrance December – Joy

A Guiding Light Lord Jesus, We give thanks for the life of Blessed Oscar Romero who spread your message and struggled against injustice in El Salvador. Like you, he was a shepherd, a pastor, a brother; Like you, he was taken from us; Like you, he remains in our hearts. Spirit of hope, work within us, just as you worked in Blessed Oscar Romero, so that we too may work for justice and spread the Good News, by living out the Gospel, in solidarity with those living in poverty. Amen.

Year of Mercy (2016)

Introduction: Seeing the great need for mercy and healing in the world, Pope Francis has called for the Year of Mercy. This is 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 a year to focus on forgiveness and healing in a special way. The Year of Mercy is an invitation to show love, kindness, and unbounded generosity. Pope Francis is offering us all the opportunity to encounter the incredible mercy of God. Encountering mercy means encountering God. It can transform our life, our relationships, our work, and our ability to embrace and experience all of life. Pope Francis has asked us all as individuals and as a Church “to be a witness of mercy” by reflecting on and practising the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. Beginning on 8 December 8 2015, the Holy Year of Mercy will focus on studying and reflecting on mercy, receiving mercy, and being merciful towards others. Pope Francis explains the Jubilee Year of Mercy in a short clip (2 minutes 35 seconds) here. A one minute news report on the announcement of the Year of Mercy can be found here.

What is a Jubilee Year? A Jubilee Year is a special year called by the Church to receive blessings and pardon from God and the remission of sins. The Church has called Jubilee years every 25 or 50 years since the year 1300 and has also called special Jubilee Years from time to time. This year Pope Francis is symbolically calling upon the entire Church to take up his papacy’s central message of compassion and pardon. Why Mercy? Pope Francis is convinced that the whole Church “has much need to receive mercy because we are sinners” and that “we will find in this Jubilee Year the joy to rediscover and render fruitful the mercy of God, with which we are called to give consolation to every man and woman of our time.” “The mercy of Jesus is kind and understanding. Let his gentle healing put your worries to rest” (Bishop Séamus) Pope Francis is asking us not only to look for mercy but also to think about how we ourselves can show mercy. “This sacred time is for mending bridges, putting things right and welcoming those who are estranged. It is a time for healing in families and between friends; a time for gentle mercy and acceptance.” (Bishop Séamus) What will happen? The Holy Door of Mercy Holy Years have been part of our Catholic history since Boniface VIII declared the first such Jubilee in 1300. Since then they have usually been proclaimed every twenty-five years. There have been a few exceptions such as 1983 which celebrated the 1,950th anniversary of the death and resurrection of our Lord. Pope Francis, in calling a Holy Year of Mercy, is declaring this year a Jubilee, rather than just a year dedicated to a particular theme. A major aspect of the Holy Year has been to make a pilgrimage to Rome seeking God’s mercy and renewing our commitment to our baptismal life. The Holy Year begins when the Pope formally opens the Holy Door in St Peter’s Basilica which is only open during such a year. Pilgrims enter the basilica through that door as a sign of faith, of our entering into the presence of God. This time Pope Francis has also called for a Holy Door, ‘a Door of Mercy’, to be opened in all cathedrals for the Jubilee Year. He also suggests that ‘a similar door may be opened at any shrine frequented by large groups of pilgrims, since visits to these holy sites are so often grace-filled moments, as people discover a path to conversion.’ In this way, the Pope invites the local church and Rome to be in communion in this celebration. Parishes and communities should plan ways of making a pilgrimage to the cathedral or other holy site where a Holy door has been opened. 24 Hours of Mercy Pope Francis is asking for ‘24 hours for the Lord’ in every diocese on the Friday and Saturday preceding the Fourth week of Lent. During this time, we will especially have the opportunity to encounter the merciful Christ in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Special Diocesan and Parish Celebrations Throughout the Year of Mercy there will be Liturgies, prayer resources, celebrations and events throughout our Diocese. These will include celebrations for specific groups and individuals, parishioners, children and young people, religious, priests, deacons, married couples, those experiencing grief, loss and separation, prisoners and catechists. Special outreach will be extended to the vulnerable, marginalised and those who may feel excluded. Pope Francis will close the Holy Year Door of Mercy on the Feast of Christ the King – 20 November 2016 bringing the Jubilee Year to an end.

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