SASKATOON — Rev. Marc Mireau of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon was recently commissioned by Pope Francis to serve as a Missionary of Mercy during this jubilee year.
Only about 1,100 priests worldwide have been designated for the special role during the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, declared from Dec. 8, 2015, to Nov. 20, 2016.
Priests designated as Missionaries of Mercy are called to be “a sign of the church’s maternal solicitude for the People of God,” said Pope Francis in declaring the jubilee year. Granted the authority to pardon even those sins reserved to the Holy See, the missionaries are asked to facilitate the sacrament of reconciliation as a “truly human encounter, a source of liberation,” said the pontiff.
Mireau travelled to Rome in February and celebrated Ash Wednesday mass with the pope at St. Peter’s Basilica before being sent forth to be “persuasive preachers of mercy” with a special role as welcoming, loving and compassionate confessors.
Although retired from full-time ministry, Mireau still assists at the Trinity parishes of Vonda, St. Denis and Prud’homme, which are served by parish life director Louise Bussiere and priest moderator Rev. Steve Morrisey, CSsR. Bishop Donald Bolen submitted Mireau’s name to the Vatican for the role of Missionary of Mercy in the jubilee year.
Mireau said that he hopes to provide a special focus on the sacrament of reconciliation in the months ahead. Those who wish to contact him can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (306) 258-4888.
“I’d like to say to everyone: ‘This is a Year of Mercy — why aren’t you going to the sacrament of reconciliation?’ It is a sacrament of joy. It is a sacrament that takes all the stuff that we have held in — and maybe didn’t ever think we could be forgiven for — and gives us forgiveness, and freedom and joy,” said Mireau.
Pope Francis spoke to the Missionaries of Mercy about their role as living signs of the Father’s mercy, Mireau said. “Pope Francis talked to us about mercy, expressed his appreciation to us, and told us how we must love the sacrament of reconciliation, and share that love and mercy with the people.”
Mireau described the powerful experience of processing from Castel Sant’Angelo to St. Peter’s Basilica with more than 700 priests and bishops from around the globe, and of being in the presence of the incorrupt body of St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina (1887 - 1968) and relics of St. Leopold Mandic (1866 - 1942), two Capuchin friars who were known as saintly confessors.
Born in Quebec, Mireau was ordained in 1970 at Peterborough, Ont. During his years of ministry in the Diocese of Saskatoon, Mireau served in a number of parishes, as a chaplain to several Catholic high schools and with Catholic Christian Outreach on the University of Saskatchewan campus. He also served as vocation director for a number of years, a ministry that is still dear to his heart.
Mireau noted that the experience of God’s mercy is closely connected to vocation discernment. Some of those who are discerning a call to the priesthood feel they are not worthy, others are unsure about their call, Mireau described. “It involves a lot of trust, and of opening themselves to God’s mercy.”