“The year of mercy is a declaration by Pope Francis that we should pay attention to this characteristic of God – that God is merciful all the time, but this year we’re going to pay particular attention to that reality,” says Katie Dawson, Director of Parish Faith Formation for the Diocese of Orange.
Jubilee years are regularly scheduled – usually on the 25 or 50-year mark, Dawson explained. However, an Extraordinary Jubilee Year is not on that 25 or 50 year schedule. It is out of the normal rhythm; that’s what makes it special, she said.
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The Pastoral Center strategized as to how they might support parishes in this special year. One of the ways was to create a new microsite, yearof mercyoc.com, to support both parishes and individuals in celebrating the Year of Mercy. The site includes a list of themes that take spiritual and corporal works of mercy and connects them to various events throughout the year, said Dawson.
In March, for example, the diocese will hold an event called 24 hours for the Lord on the campus of Christ Cathedral. It will be a 24-hour penance service, explained Dawson.
In addition, there are pilgrimage sites within the diocese. Two Holy Doors – one at Mission Basilica in San Juan Capistrano and at Holy Family Cathedral in Orange – were recently “opened” by Bishop Vann. Dawson says crossing over the threshold is a symbolic way to start one’s journey throughout the year.
The theme of the Year of Mercy is “Merciful like the Father.”