Open Wide the Doors of Mercy

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
26 Nov 2015

The Logo for the Year of Mercy, emphasising the merciful attributes of God the Father

Preparations are well under way in the Archdiocese of Sydney to usher in the Jubilee Year of Mercy announced by Pope Francis which will be marked by the opening of the Holy Door in St Mary's Cathedral on Sunday 13 December at the 10.30 Solemn Mass.

"My fervent prayer is for all of Sydney's Catholics to experience the loving mercy of God through the graces and initiatives of this Jubilee Year,"  Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP said.

"And I invite the people of the Archdiocese of Sydney to join me for the opening of the Holy Door of St Mary's Cathedral."

The opening of the Cathedral's Holy Door follows the opening of the Holy Door in St Peter's Basilica in Rome by Pope Francis on 8 December to officially declare the Year of Mercy open. The Vatican Holy Door was last opened for the Jubilee Year of 2000, marking two millennia since the birth of Jesus. Since then it has remained cemented up, as is the custom, until the next Jubilee. According to Jewish tradition, Jubilee years were celebrated every 50 years and in recent centuries the Church has declared them every 25 years to offer a holy year and the many graces attached to every generation.

Popes can call extraordinary Jubilees for important reasons or to mark significant milestones, for example the extraordinary Jubilee of the Holy Year of Redemption, called by Pope John Paul II in 1983 to mark 1,950 years since the death and resurrection of Christ.

A Jubilee or Holy Year is a year of forgiveness of sins, reconciliation, conversion and a renewed fervour of the faith, pointing ultimately to Christ who brings life and grace to humanity. In this extraordinary Year of Mercy, Pope Francis wishes to bring God's gift of mercy to the world in a new and dynamic way.

"I am confident that the whole Church, which is in such need of mercy for we are sinners, will be able to find in this Jubilee the joy of rediscovering and rendering fruitful God's mercy, with which we are all called to give comfort to every man and every woman of our time," Pope Francis declared in his announcement of the Jubilee year on the two year anniversary of his election.

Sr Moira Debono, Chair of the Year of Mercy Working Party for the Archdiocese of Sydney

The Jubilee Year of Mercy also coincides with the 50th Anniversary of the closing of the second Vatican council, a time of great change for the Church. The change Pope Francis is calling for with this Jubilee is that the Church will bring to the world, through the witness of its faithful, a transformative expression of God's redeeming mercy.

"How much I desire that the year to come will be steeped in mercy, so that we can go out to every man and woman, bringing the goodness and tenderness of God!"

In the Bull of Indiction for the Year of Mercy entitled 'Misericordiae Vultus'  (The Face of Mercy), Pope Francis emphasises the expression of mercy so needed by the world.

"Let us rediscover 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 let us not forget the spiritual works of mercy: to counsel the doubtful, instruct the ignorant, admonish sinners, comfort the afflicted, forgive offences, bear patiently those who do us ill, and pray for the living and the dead."

A Year of Mercy Working Party has been established to plan the Archdiocese of Sydney's response to the Jubilee Year of Mercy. Sr Moira Debono, a Sister of Mercy is chairing the working party which is assisting parishioners, members of school communities and those working for or with the Church to experience the loving mercy of God through the graces and initiatives of this dedicated year.

The Working Party will liaise and collaborate with adjoining dioceses, the ACBC and the parishes and movements that are preparing events or materials for the Year of Mercy.

The Holy Door of St Peter's Basilica in Rome, opened only for Jubilee years

Sr Moira explains that the Papal Bull indicates that "activities in Rome should be paralleled with activities of the local Churches so as to be a visible sign of the Church's universal communion" and that these events as much as possible "should normally blend in with parish life".

Some of the recommended initiatives for the Year of Mercy outlined by Sr Moira include a renewal of the practice of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, expressions of mercy-in-practice by working with the poor and disadvantaged, and an incorporation of the year's theme "Merciful like the Father" into already existing liturgies and programs.

An event that will unite all the dioceses of the world will be "24 Hours for the Lord", set to be held on 4-5 March 2016 during Lent when every parish church is asked to remain open for some extended period of time with sacramental penance and Eucharistic adoration. In a particular way, this event is open to those who have stopped participating in the life of the Church and is a generous invitation for them to enter in to the experience of God's mercy and love.

One of the features of the Year of Mercy in the Archdiocese of Sydney will be a pilgrimage through St Mary's Cathedral to designated 'mercy stations', sites identified along a pathway through the Cathedral that will assist people to contemplate and encounter the mercy of God. There will be a child friendly component of the pilgrimage to encourage pilgrims of all sizes to walk through the Holy Door and embark upon this unique journey.

For more information about the Jubilee Year of Mercy see

To contact Sr Moira and the Working Party, please email