Doors of Mercy opened in Aotearoa New Zealand
E Whakatuwhera ana i te Kūahu o te Atawhai
Opening the Door of Mercy
8 December marks the beginning of Te Tau o Te Atawhai, the Year of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis in the document Misericordiae Vultus.
In this Year of Mercy we are invited to atawhai mai atawhai atu – to receive mercy from God, to offer this mercy, indeed to be mercy, in response to the cry of the earth and cry of the poor.
Called by the wairua of Mercy, sisters, companions and many connected with Mercy opened sacred doors into the Jubilee Year of Mercy at locations throughout Aotearoa.
Mission writer Dennis Horton reflects on the ceremony held in Wellington.
In what may well have been the first of a global network of such rituals, Sisters of Mercy gathered in Wellington with staff and students from two Mercy colleges, colleagues and friends, to mark the beginning of the Holy Year on Tuesday 8 December. The blessing and opening of the assembly hall doors at St Mary’s College, Thorndon, was several hours in advance of the opening of the Holy Door in St Peter’s Basilica in Rome, which began the special Year of Mercy inaugurated by Pope Francis.
Attended by a crowd of around 100, the Thorndon ceremony was one of four held in different Mercy venues throughout New Zealand on the same day. The event was led by Natalie Murphy rsm, one of two Sisters of Mercy who are coordinating the local response to a Mercy International Reflection Process initiated by the Mercy International Association.
Preceded by a karanga of welcome from local kuia Rangi Hau, the ceremony began with a prayer to bless and open the central wooden doors of the school hall; as participants took their seats within the hall, students carried to the focal point a lighted Mercy candle, along with copies of Pope Francis’ encyclical letter Laudato Si and his document announcing the Year of Mercy, as well as a globe to represent planet Earth and a vessel of oil and a towel, symbols of the parable of the Good Samaritan which was read as part of the ritual.
Brief extracts from the pope’s writings were read by Mercy congregation leader, Katrina Fabish and Sr Anne Campbell, and by Mercy principals Catherine Ryan (St Mary’s) and Mary Curran (St Catherine’s). Participants joined in praying the pope’s Prayer for our Earth, aware that the same prayer would soon be prayed in the 44 countries where Sisters of Mercy and their companions are currently involved, responding to the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor.
Sr Katrina ended with a plea for prayers for the outcome of negotiations on climate change currently being held in Paris. She asked especially that students pray that officials from New Zealand take their cue from the smaller nations of the Pacific, where the adverse effects of climate change are already being felt, rather than siding with the larger, more powerful nations of the world.
She repeated the quote of the French Jesuit Teilhard de Chardin, “the future belongs to those who give the next generation reason to hope.”
Between noon and 2pm at gatherings in the 44 countries where Sisters of Mercy and companions work, candles were lit and Pope Francis’ prayer for Earth and her peoples was prayed, wrapping the Earth in prayer for 24 hours.
Click here to read Laudate Si’ Pope Francis’ encyclical On Care for Our Common Home.
He inoi tatou
Let us recognise God’s abundant mercy for all and be a credible witness
to atawhai mercy in the way we live.
May we be ‘mercied’ from the heart of God – Amen
May we be drawn into the depths of the mystery of God – Amen
May the great river of mercy well up and flow through us unceasingly – Amen