POPE Francis has asked Catholic dioceses around the world to set up a permanent memorial of the Year of Mercy.
It’s a new and sizeable challenge, but also offers a unique opportunity to meet the needs we see around us.
How could the Archdiocese of Brisbane best respond to the Holy Father’s request?
Pope Francis said the idea came to him during a meeting with a charitable organisation, and he decided to announce it during an evening prayer vigil celebrating Divine Mercy Sunday on April 2, and then he raised the idea again at morning Mass last Sunday.
“As a reminder, a ‘monument’ let’s say, to this Year of Mercy, how beautiful it would be if in every diocese there were a structural work of mercy: a hospital, a home for the aged or abandoned children, a school where there isn’t one, a home for recovering drug addicts – so many things could be done,” the Pope said.
“Let’s think about it and speak with the bishops,” the Pope told thousands of people gathered in St Peter’s Square for prayer.
The more one receives mercy, Pope Francis said at the vigil April 2, “the more we are called to share it with others; it cannot be kept hidden or kept only for ourselves”.
God’s mercy should drive people to love others, “recognising the face of Jesus Christ above all in those who are most distant, weak, alone, confused and marginalised”, he said.
So how could we respond? The Catholic Leader has started to canvas ideas. What work of mercy should the Archdiocese of Brisbane undertake to meet Pope Francis’ vision?
“Water wells,” Bracken Ridge Bald Hills parish priest and Brisbane North East dean Fr Gerry Hefferan said.
“There are areas in South Sudan that are an hour’s walk from water.
“One of our parish focuses is supporting the work of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart in building wells that are desperately needed there.
“That is the wider Church. In our parish community we say ‘we are there for each other – how do we do that? ’”
Within Australia, Fr Hefferan pinpointed accommodating refugees, and reaching out to Queensland parishes in drought as priorities.
His parish works with the central Queensland community of Blackall. Other Brisbane parishes have targeted towns throughout the state’s drought-affected inland.
Gympie parish priest and North Country dean Fr Patrick Cassidy immediately identified accommodation for the homeless as a pressing need.
“There’s none at all in Gympie,” he said.
“It’s an all-year-round issue for families, as well as people passing through.”
Fr Cassidy suggested a block of single accommodation units, such as a motel, could answer the need.
“If we could do something for the unemployed youth,” Beaudesert parish priest and Logan dean Fr Michael McKeaten said.
“Kids that are here have limited options.”
In the North Coast deanery, Fr Joe Duffy pointed to the $30 million church and six-storey aged-care project taking shape in his Maroochydore parish.
“I think this is a very significant act of mercy, because the Church tries to give caring for our aged as a priority too,” he said.
“This is a place where people come to retire. When we reach this stage it is nice to provide people with the best facilities that we can.”
Across the archdiocese, it’s evident the ideas are ripe, the good works are here in abundance, and in many cases already underway.
What are your thoughts on a Year of Mercy monument? Email us at email@example.com
By Mark Bowling