Holy Year doors will open wide across Diocese’s four counties Dec. 13

TRENTON, NJ - The Diocese of Trenton, like its counterparts all over the world, will join Pope Francis and the Holy See in officially marking the opening of the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy Dec. 8.

Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., will observe the opening of the Holy Year during Mass at 12:10 p.m. in St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Trenton.

The Extraordinary Jubilee, or Holy Year of Mercy, was first announced in April by Pope Francis as a time for mercy, to seek forgiveness and to be merciful as our Father in Heaven is merciful.  In his formal proclamation titled “Misericordiae Vultus” (“The Face of Mercy”), the Pope instructs that the Holy Year of Mercy will be observed throughout the Catholic Church worldwide from Dec. 8, 2015 through Nov. 20, 2016. 

In describing the need for this focus on mercy, the Holy Father wrote, “When faced with the gravity of sin, God responds with the fullness of mercy.  Mercy will always be greater than any sin, and no one can place limits on the love of God who is ever ready to forgive.”

During the Jubilee Year, the faithful are encouraged to rediscover and embrace the corporal works of mercy – to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, heal the sick, visit the imprisoned and bury the dead – and the spiritual works of mercy – to counsel the doubtful, instruct the ignorant, admonish sinners, comfort the afflicted, forgive offenses, bear patiently those who do us ill and pray for the living and the dead.

Jubilee Years have a scriptural origin in the Old Testament.  Convoked by the Pope, the Catholic Church has celebrated Jubilee Years since the 1300s, ordinarily every 25 or 50 years.  They may be celebrated more frequently when special circumstances prompt them.


Holy Doors of Mercy

In his proclamation, Pope Francis instructed that a Door of Mercy will be opened for the duration of the Holy Year in every local diocese, in its cathedral or other church of special significance.  In Catholic tradition, the Holy Door represents the passage to salvation, the path to a new and eternal life, which was opened to humanity by Jesus.  It also symbolizes an entryway to God’s mercy – the ultimate and supreme act by which he comes to meet people. 

In the Diocese of Trenton, Bishop O’Connell has designated 13 churches as pilgrimage sites where Doors of Mercy have been established.

Just as Pope Francis will open wide the Holy Door in St. Peter’s Basilica Dec. 8, Bishop O’Connell and priests in the 13 Holy Door sites across Burlington, Mercer, Monmouth and Ocean Counties will formally open these doors in special rites and ceremonies Dec. 13.  Bishop O’Connell will open the Holy Door in St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, following the 10:30 a.m. Mass.  (A listing of the Holy Door sites is provided.)

The Pope has encouraged the faithful to make a pilgrimage to one of the Holy Doors established in their Diocese during the Year of Mercy, and to receive, as a result of that pilgrimage, a plenary indulgence (a measure of mercy in response to sins committed) during the Extraordinary Jubilee.  

This was explained in greater detail in September when the Holy Father wrote “to all the faithful who, whether in individual dioceses or as pilgrims to Rome, will experience the grace of the Jubilee. I wish that the Jubilee Indulgence may reach each one as a genuine experience of God’s mercy, which comes to meet each person in the Face of the Father who welcomes and forgives, forgetting completely the sin committed. To experience and obtain the Indulgence, the faithful are called to make a brief pilgrimage to the Holy Door, open in every cathedral or in the churches designated by the diocesan bishop, and in the four papal basilicas in Rome, as a sign of the deep desire for true conversion.”

For more information on the plenary indulgence, go to http://www.dioceseoftrenton.org/yearofmercy/

Also for the Holy Year ….

In September, Bishop O’Connell wrote the pastoral letter “Mercy and Truth Shall Meet” in which he points to the inextricable link between mercy and truth as revealed by Christ to his Church.  Bishop O’Connell writes, “For us, as Catholic Christians, truth always allows for mercy, not as a replacement for, but as a consequence. And mercy, authentic mercy, always includes and never denies truth.”

The letter can be read or downloaded in print or podcast versions at www.dioceseoftrenton.org/pastoral-letter2015/. At this time it is also available in print in Spanish and Creole.

Holy Hours for the Year of Mercy, a time to come together in prayer before the Eucharist , will soon be announced in many locations across the Diocese during the next 12 months. 

For more information on local observances of the Year of Mercy, contact the Diocese of Trenton, Office of Communications at (609) 403-7199 (English) or (609) 403-7212 (Spanish).


Pilgrimage churches throughout Diocese announce plans for opening of Holy Door

Monmouth County

St. Mary, Middletown • Dec. 13, Mass, 10:30 a.m., will begin with the opening of the Holy Door, Sacrament of Reconciliation, every weeknight, 7 p.m. (during the Jubilee year of Mercy). For information, call 732-671-0071 or www.stmarychurchnj.org.

St. Mary, Colts Neck • Dec. 13, Mass, noon. For information, call 732-780-2666 or visit www.stmarycoltsneck.com.

Holy Cross, Rumson • Dec. 13, Mass, 10:30 a.m., followed by hospitality. For information, call

732-842-0348 or visit www.holycrossrumson.org.

St. Robert Bellarmine, Freehold • Dec. 13, Mass, 10 a.m., opening of the Holy Door; Confessions, Tues. evenings, beginning Dec. 8, 7 to 8 p.m. For information, call 732-462-7429 or visit www.strobert.com.

St. Catherine, Middletown • Dec. 14, Masses, 8 a.m., noon (Traditional Latin) and 7 p.m. (Benediction) will honor the Feast of St. Lucy. All Masses will combine the Blessing of the Relic of St. Lucy and the opening of the Holy Door. For information, call 732-787-1318 or visit www.stcathek.org.