Advent Action: Open the Doors of Mercy

In this webinar Sr. Terry Rickard, Executive Director of RENEW International, will reflect on the Year of Mercy and offer practical ways our parishes can bring mercy into people’s hearts and homes, especially during the Advent season. 

How Parishes Can Celebrate the Year of Mercy 

During the webinar, Sr. Terry asked the participants to share what their parish is doing to celebrate the Year of Mercy. Here are some of their ideas:

A Wall of Mercy

To start, we are creating a "Wall of Mercy" on which we are hanging up images, stories, poems, etc. that parishioners offer that illustrate mercy - it's a way to help people understand how big a concept mercy is. We have asked people to bring in some images or write down a narrative. We are also providing outlines of crosses on which they can write something simple. As examples, someone wrote down how Pope John Paul II forgave the person who shot him. Another person submitted a picture of the Amish women in Pennsylvania after they forgave the person who shot their children. We are hanging them up on the wall in our Social Hall. We're decorating it with paper and fabric, and will simply hang things up as we get them so everyone can come down and see them.

Food and Clothing Drives

  • We in the Fairbanks are doing a program called “Christmas in the Bush” to help our 36 native village missions.
  • This is the first year we are not exchanging gifts but instead donating as much money as we would have spent to a local charity that is in particular need.
  • Teens are creating “blessings bags” for the homeless: Ziploc bags with socks, hand warmers, granola bars, etc. which are delivered to our outreach department.
  • Our PSR children are making fleece blankets for families at our St. Vincent DePaul Society.
  • We are collecting warm clothes, especially socks and blankets, for the homeless.
  • We are leaving gloves and hats on trees in the park for the homeless.
  • Our parish is adopting families and providing food to an Indian reservation.
  • We are inviting the parishioners to take a tab from the Joshua tree and buy a gift for the homeless.

Catechesis and Carrying Out the Works of Mercy

  • Our parish is focusing on one work of mercy each month throughout the Year of Mercy. There will be a parish action, education, and other ideas provided. 
  • We launched a campaign to invite parishioners to do one act of mercy per week. We called it the SMT (Saint Martin of Tours Catholic Church) Year of Mercy Challenge
  • We are following the Posadas in a parish and taking the children and families involved to visit a retirement home.
  • Our parish ministries are leading a corporal and spiritual work of mercy each month.
  • We are focusing on teaching the works of mercy.

Adult Faith Formation

  • Later this year, our adults will be studying Laudate Si. We studied Evangeli Gaudiuum last year and are looking forward to studying the Pope's encyclical.
  • We are using a five-part Lenten series on Salvation History, our story of salvation, and how prayer, fasting, and almsgiving relate to our receiving and offering mercy.  Also, we have made a prayer space with images of mercy and a Prayer Book of Mercy for people to put intentions, petitions, and expressions of gratitude for mercy.

Promoting Personal Prayer

  • Good deeds are great.  Christ's good deeds were drawn from deep personal prayer, not just "bright ideas." Finding resolution in regular prayer and study of CCC and excellent spiritual readings can help with serious prayer and study. 
  • Completing 33 Days to Morning Glory.
  • We'll be praying the Divine Mercy chaplet as a parish once a month led by different groups in the parish each time
  • We will be having a reflection on writings by St. Faustina each week in the parish bulletin.

Other Ideas

  • Our diocese has a "Year of Mercy calendar” we have created around the Bull, and are including various resources for local parishes
  • Our parish Mental Health & Wellness Ministry is planning is planning to offer a wide variety of educational and support programs in an attempt to break down the stigma of mental illness.
  • Spiritual Directors can offer presence to those who are in need of a listening ear, as our time is a tremendous gift.  Ask others to share their thoughts, fears, and hopes in the present moment.  We need to get beyond fate and fight to find joy, hope, and love in each other.
  • We are having a youth event focused on Mercy!