REGINA — The Year of Mercy in the Regina archdiocese had a good start with all eight deaneries celebrating a special mass, incorporating the special prayers into their regular mass or holding a special adoration service. A regular mass at St. Cecilia’s Church in Regina incorporated some special prayers and activities associated with the Year of Mercy beginning on Dec. 8 and served as the kick-off for the Regina deanery.
At least two parishes in the Weyburn and Esterhazy deaneries decided to recite the Divine Mercy Chaplet as part of their Dec. 8 celebration. The Esterhazy deanery is also planning a summer celebration at Camp O’Neil.
Several churches are sporting the banner developed by the archdiocese; for some it is displayed outside the church over a door while others display at the entrance to the church or in one case prominently behind the altar.
A special liturgy program handbook, developed by archdiocesan director of liturgy, Rev. Ron Andree, was sent to all parishes with suggestions for special celebrations.
“The Holy Father during the Year of Mercy also issued an invitation to the church to offer reconciliation more lovingly and frequently and so in this handbook are various materials for reconciliation and penitential services that parishes can use,” said Andree. As well, the diocesan pastoral staff has put together a pastoral overview of incorporating the theme of mercy in all its activities and initiatives.
“Any holy year or thematic year is not intended to replace the regular life of the church but to permeate everything that we do, so conscious attention to mercy and to proclaiming and teaching and preaching around mercy is an extra theme which I know all the pastoral offices are attempting to do.”
St. John the Baptist Parish, Estevan, decided to do things that help internal transformation and shows mercy to groups and individuals. The parish cancelled all fees usually charged parish groups for the use of facilities; and reduced the rental rate 40 per cent for groups like pre-school and others who use the church hall and other facilities. “It takes some pressure off local groups who are feeling the pinch with the drop in oil prices,” said pastor Rev. Brian Meredith.
Estevan bills itself as the energy capital and its economy has seen a downturn. The parish has also cancelled some regular meetings so members can spend more time with their families, said Meredith. “We’re getting away from focusing on the external and focusing on internal transformation. We’ve done really well on the external but need focus. You don’t just talk about mercy, you do it. It’s supposed to be an action.”