Franciscan University celebrates church’s Year of Mercy



Observation of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, proclaimed by Pope Francis and beginning on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, started early at Franciscan University through the school year’s theme, “Be rich in Mercy like the Father.”

Photo by Elizabeth Feudo. Bishop Jeffrey Monforton opens the Holy Door in Christ the King Chapel on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.
Photo by Elizabeth Feudo. Bishop Jeffrey Monforton opens the Holy Door in Christ the King Chapel on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

Now that the church is in the Year of Mercy, the celebration will be observed in a deeper way.

Theology graduate student Katie Ice said, “Mercy is the story of my life. … Like every other person, I myself have fallen short in many different ways, realized my weakness, and through them, experienced the mercy of God in profound ways. Life is an ongoing conversion, and I continue to experience God’s mercy on a daily basis.”

“Live out the year of mercy, don’t just talk about and think about it,” said Sheridan.

On Dec. 2, Bishop Jeffrey Monforton of the Diocese of Steubenville, designated Christ the King Chapel the site of holy doors, which he opened Dec. 8, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception and the beginning of the liturgical Year of Mercy. Pilgrims who pass through the doors have the opportunity to receive a plenary indulgence once a day during the Year of Mercy.

According to a press release by the university, “Pilgrims and penitents pass through it as a gesture of leaving the past behind and crossing the threshold from sin to grace, from slavery to freedom, and from darkness to light. Often these rituals are associated with prayer, pilgrimage, sacrifice, confession, and indulgences.”

The doors will remain open until the close of the Year of Mercy on Nov. 20, 2016.

Every first Friday of the month, students and faculty have the opportunity to gather for a holy hour and to pray a chaplet of divine mercy. Each month has a specific focus. November’s focus was the souls of the faithfully departed. December’s focus is forgiveness.

Each department brings its own intentions to the holy hour. For instance, Enrollment Services will frequently bring forth the intentions of potential new students and the advancement department frequently brings forward the intentions of benefactors.

This year, the Chapel Office also added an extra session of reconciliation to make the sacrament more accessible to more people.

Sheridan said that he hopes that students and faculty will develop a deeper love for Jesus and recognize his presence in their lives.

He said, “The little things start to bother us because we realize that they are actually separating us from Christ. … Things that may not have bothered us in the past becomes a much bigger deal because we are actually growing in our relationship with Christ. I think that’s a good thing because we become more aware of those things that separate us. If we didn’t want to be in that deep relationship, if we didn’t want to love as Christ loves, than those things wouldn’t bother us.”

“I would encourage everybody to take advantage of the various opportunities that are going to be happening throughout the year,” said Sheridan, “not only to participate in the various corporal works of mercy but the various prayer opportunities that focus on mercy, love compassion. … It starts with the personal connection and personal encounter through that relationship with Christ. Being able to delve into that relationship and being aware of how much you are in need of God’s mercy.”