PRINCE ALBERT — “I heard a clear call for the church to open wide her doors and invite everyone to experience the Father’s mercy,” said Christine Taylor, diocesan director of catechetics and one of the organizers for the Year of Mercy events in the Diocese of Prince Albert.
On Feb. 19, inspired by the writings of Pope Francis in the Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, diocesan organizers created a relaxing “come and go” at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Prince Albert.
It was a chance to sit back in prayer, share burdens, talk about faith, church or life struggles, and receive the sacrament of reconciliation in a relaxing environment. Priests and lay pastoral workers were available to talk with visitors.
The afternoon began with community prayer. Meditational music played as a continuous stream of people came and went, often stopping for coffee and a visit with those available at the entrance. The Stations of the Cross were held at 7:00 p.m. and the Year of Mercy prayer ended the evening.
Taylor said Pope Francis is making a difference with his open invitation to everyone to experience the Father’s mercy.
“The hope for this day is that the invitation will be heard by those who feel disenfranchised from God, and the church will take this opportunity to come and speak with people to share their burdens, pray and, when desiring, go to the sacrament of reconciliation. I really think that opportunities like this, for those who are seeking God to come and encounter the merciful Father, are what the whole year is about.”
“People were able to choose a pastor to go to if they wanted to; they didn’t feel pressured to have to go quickly,” said Bishop Albert Thévenot, M. Afr. “There was time to talk and share about deeper issues. My hope is that this becomes something that happens on a regular basis. People felt relaxed coming in here, and prayerful. People were spread out, giving privacy and quiet time. Many people stopped for coffee in the back and a chat as they came in and as they left. It showed there were people there to just be together, to chat. It’s a wonderful first step.”