Invitation to Pilgrimage of Mercy and Service

To paraphrase a still-popular song, what the world needs now is MERCY, sweet mercy. Truly there is too little mercy in our world, even among those who profess to serve God.

Pope Francis inaugurating the Jubilee Year of Mercy by opening the Holy Door at St. Peter’s, December 8, 2015.

The Jubilee Year of Mercy, opened by our Holy Father, Pope Francis, on December 8, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, is an opportunity and a challenge to seek and to receive and to imitate and to share the mercy of God, shown to us by Christ. From the start, the theme of mercy has been at the heart of Pope Francis’ life and message. In fact, clearly his life IS his message. You could turn the sound off completely, and still know unmistakably from his actions what he is all about.

Actually he is all about discipleship of Jesus Christ, and imitation is the sincerest form of discipleship. Well, in fact, the ONLY form . . .

On his own – well,  with the Holy Spirit – he conceived and decided upon this Jubilee Year of Mercy for the entire Church and the world. Even though the motto of this Year of Mercy is “Merciful Like the Father,” there is no easy way to get a complete idea of what it is all about.  No mottos, soundbites or one-liners can do it justice. For openers, I suggest you check out the official Vatican website for the Jubilee, and especially read carefully the document by the Holy Father, Misericordiae Vultus (The Face of Mercy, from the opening line, “Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s mercy”). Don’t skim through it; meditate and pray your way through it. It’ll be time well spent.

Among the major events in Rome during the Jubilee year,  a special Jubilee for Deacons is planned for the end of May.

I am joining a Pilgrimage to the Holy Land and Rome for that event.  The ancient tradition of a permanent Order of Deacons in the Catholic Church was re-established by the Second Vatican Council, and in the early 1970s I was asked to be part of the team in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles to prepare men for the Permanent Diaconate. (Since the diaconate is open to married men, their wives are also integrated into the formation program.)  The first class of 25 men was ordained by Cardinal Timothy Manning in 1975. I continued to serve as an instructor in liturgy for the deacons until the mid-1980s. At present we have more than 380 deacons serving in a variety of ministries in the Archdiocese.

I feel very privileged to have been a part of the diaconate formation and deeply connected to the lives and ministry of so many deacons in Los Angeles. And so I jumped at the opportunity to join them on this wonderful occasion.

Would you like to come with me? The Pilgrimage itinerary will include Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Galilee, Nazareth, Capernaum, Rome, Assisi, Florence, and Venice. The dates: 15 days from May 20 to June 3, 2016. The total cost is $4,900, double occupancy, including airfare from anywhere in the United States.

This Pilgrimage is not limited just to deacons and their families, but is open to anyone who wishes to come along. The only requirement is to seek and celebrate the spirit of mercy and service that characterizes the group. I’d love to have you along.

You can find detailed information about the Pilgrimage, its itinerary, and registration, at the Proximo Travel website here.

 

 

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Author: tomwelbers

I have been a Catholic priest for nearly fifty years, most of that time serving in parish and college campus ministry. I also have professional degrees in theology and liturgy, as well as institutional management, and continue avidly to explore pastoral theology, Scripture, liturgy, ecumenical and interfaith relations, and spiritual direction. I have a passion for sharing insight into our Christian heritage through teaching, writing, and leading pilgrimages, especially to Early Christian World sites in Turkey. Now actively retired from parish ministry, I live at Nazareth House in Los Angeles.

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