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Preparing for the Year of Mercy
Since Pope Francis announced the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy earlier this year, mercy has been the theme of nearly all of his homilies, speeches, and other engagements – including his recent historic visit to the United States. Pope Francis in his Bull of Indiction said, "Mercy is the very foundation of the Church’s life. All of her pastoral activity should be caught up in the tenderness she makes present to believers; nothing in her preaching and in her witness to the world can be lacking in mercy." In preparation for the Jubilee Year, everyone is invited to gather in Gaylord on Saturday, October 31 for a conference and resource day titled, “Merciful like the Father: Becoming Heralds of God’s Mercy.” Organized through the Diocesan Secretariat for Worship and Liturgical Formation, the conference will address mercy in its many forms and be held in the Cooney Conference Center of the Diocesan Pastoral Center.
“This conference is about preparing us to celebrate the Jubilee Year of Mercy well as we pray, talk, listen and reflect about the upcoming year,” said Beth Hicks, Coordinator of Worship and Liturgical Formation. “We want to generate ideas about how to share the message with children, youth and adults. Ultimately our goal in this Jubilee Year is to become a people filled with the mercy of the Father who share it in our communities and with each other.”
Following the opening prayer for the conference, Gaylord Bishop Steven J. Raica will offer the keynote presentation. His talk will focus on the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy and be followed by an opportunity for questions and answers. In the afternoon, participants may select two different breakout sessions from among five offerings:
Presenting on Jail Ministry, Deacon Tom Bousamra will address the needs of inmates and the practical approaches that he has learned over his 30 years of ministry to those imprisoned.
Deacon Paul Fifer, a registered nurse, will give an overview of the history and spirituality of ministering to the sick. Discussions will include coping, caring for the whole person, communication skills, HIPAA regulations, as well as considerations needed for sacramental ministry in a medical institution.
Toni Stanfield, an experienced bereavement minister, will discuss how caring for those who are grieving is another way we practice our faith and extend mercy. She will highlight symptoms of grief, including identifying the difference between grief and clinical depression.
Mike and Gale Walker, who direct the Nehemiah Project and Mary Margaret House, will speak on homelessness as they discuss the stigmas and stereotypes of the homeless and address their many needs. The Walkers will delve into practical and everyday ways that the faithful can minister to the homeless.
The diocese’s newest priest, Fr. Tyler Bischoff, will help participants understand Catholic teachings about indulgences, particularly indulgences available to Catholics during the Jubilee Year of Mercy by Pope Francis. Fr. Bischoff will also explain the teaching and beauty of the Sacrament of Penance.
Throughout the day, participants will also have time to visit a variety of resource tables and to talk to the ‘experts’ who will be available for assistance on a number of topics as well as to pick up free materials or peruse materials that may be purchased or ordered. The Rose Resource Center and Bookstore will also be open.
Cost for the day is $20 per person and includes lunch. A brochure with a registration form may be downloaded below or obtained by contacting the Diocese of Gaylord at 989.732.5147. Registrations, including breakout session choices, must be received by October 26. For more information or if you have questions, contact Beth Hicks via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
After the conference, everyone is invited to attend the 5:00 p.m. Mass at St. Mary Cathedral, which will be celebrated by Bishop Raica. Just prior to the Mass, he will seal the Holy Door of Mercy, which will remain sealed until December 13, when Pope Francis opens the Holy Door at the Basilica of St. John Lateran and cathedrals around the world will unseal their Holy Doors.
“Pope Francis and Bishop Raica are calling us to embrace this opportunity to change lives, our own lives and the lives of others,” Hicks concluded. “Mercy is the foundation of our Church. It is who and what we are called to be -- a people of mercy."