Year of Mercy

Jubilee Year of Mercy

8 December 2015 to 20 November 2016

..the mercy of God is not an abstract idea, but a concrete reality with which he reveals his love as of that of a father or a mother, moved to the very depths out of love for their child…

Pope Francis

A Holy Year of Mercy

On 8 December 2015, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, Pope Francis will opened the Holy Year of Mercy.

The Pope hopes that the year “will be steeped in mercy, so that we can go out to every man and woman, bringing the goodness and tenderness of God! May the balm of mercy reach everyone, both believers and those far away, as a sign that the Kingdom of God is already present in our midst!” (Bull of Indiction 5)

The Year will close on the Feast of  Christ the King  20 November 2016. Pope Francis announced the opening of the Year by making a Bull of Indiction.

Insigne_Francisci.svgWhat is a Bull of Indiction?

A Bull is a papal documents of special importance that bears, or at least traditionally would have borne, the Pontiff’s seal – his formal signature.

Indiction  means a formal announcement or proclamation.

Therefore  a Bull of Indiction  is an important document from the Church to the whole Church.  For a Year of Jubilee such as the Holy Year of Mercy the Bull of Indiction  indicates its time, with the opening and closing dates and the main ways in which it will be implemented.  It  is the key document that states the intentions and the outcomes hoped for by the Pope.

Misericordiae Vultus is the Latin and therefore formal name of the document which you can read in full on the Vatican Website.

Holy DoorThe Holy Door

One of the ritual actions on 8 December at both St Peter’s in the Vatican and other significant Churches such as our own Cathedral of St Patrick’s and St Joseph is the opening of the Holy Door. This distinctive feature in the Jubilee celebration is an unwalling of the holy door.

The Holy Door is opened to evoke the concept of forgiveness.The designation of a Holy Door may trace back to the ancient Christian practice of public penitence when sinners were given public penances to perform before receiving absolution.The penitents were not allowed to enter a church before completing the penance, but they were warmly welcomed back in when their penance was fulfilled.

Today Holy Year pilgrims enter designated Churches through the Holy Door as a sign of their repentance and re-commitment to a life of faith.

The ritual for opening the Holy Door at St. Peter’s Basilica goes back to 1499 when Pope Alexander VI opened the door on Christmas Eve to inaugurate the Holy Year 1500.

Pope Francis – A Year of Mercy

A Song of Mercy

A great song that celebrates God’s Mercy

The Year of Mercy


Our Sunday Visitor’s  Free 365 Days to Mercy app, is designed to accompany you on a spiritual journey during the Jubilee Year of Mercy.

Avialable for i-devises or android.

There is a beautiful New Zealand produced resource full of ideas for celebrating The Year of Mercy Jubilee-of-Mercy-Resources

Prayer for the Year of Mercy

Lord Jesus Christ,
you have taught us to be merciful like the heavenly Father,
and have told us that whoever sees you sees Him.
Show us your face and we will be saved.

Your loving gaze freed Zacchaeus and Matthew from being enslaved by money;
the adulteress and Magdalene from seeking happiness only in created things;
made Peter weep after his betrayal,
and assured Paradise to the repentant thief.

Let us hear, as if addressed to each one of us, the words that you spoke to the Samaritan woman:
“If you knew the gift of God!”

You are the visible face of the invisible Father,
of the God who manifests his power above all by forgiveness and mercy:
let the Church be your visible face in the world, its Lord risen and glorified.

You willed that your ministers would also be clothed in weakness
in order that they may feel compassion for those in ignorance and error:
let everyone who approaches them feel sought after, loved, and forgiven by God.

Send your Spirit and consecrate every one of us with its anointing,
so that the Jubilee of Mercy may be a year of grace from the Lord,
and your Church, with renewed enthusiasm,
may bring good news to the poor,
proclaim liberty to captives and the oppressed,
and restore sight to the blind.

We ask this through the intercession of Mary, Mother of Mercy,
you who live and reign with the Father
and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever.

How to Celebrate the Year of Mercy

Go to Reconciliation

What better way to celebrate the Year of Mercy than to ask for forgiveness of our sins? Don’t worry if its been a long time since you last went God will forgive. Reconciliation also provides strength to help us from sinning in the future.

Contact local parishes to find out where and when Reconciliation is offered.


Offer Mercy to Others

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy. -Matthew 5:7

Every day offers us the chance to be merciful. When someone makes a mistake, hurts your feelings, cuts in front of us in line, or is rude or annoying, – we can make the choice between been grumpy or rsponding with a smile and a word of kindness or encouragement. We are all human; none of us is perfect. By showing mercy to others, we are showing Christ-like compassion we are living the Year of Mercy.


 Learn About Mercy

The Religious Education Team is offering four 90 minute sessions on Mercy.  Arrange a group to meet in your parish and explore the Scriptural, Traditional and Practical aspects of Mercy.


Pray Mercy

The Liturgy Centre have produced a resource for the Year of Mercy entitled A Communal Prayer Resource for Morning and Evening.  It includes a Novena (29 November – 7 December 2015) and Morning and Evening Prayer for the Year of Mercy (8 December 2015 – 9 February 2016).  You can download it from the website or purchase for $5.00 from the Liturgy Centre.

The Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy

 A Pastoral Letter from the Catholic Bishops of Aotearoa New Zealand
Second Sunday of Advent, 6th December 2015

Be merciful as your Father is merciful [Lk 6:36]

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ

Soon all of us – our faith communities of parishes and their schools and colleges, our Catholic marae, our social services and various chaplaincies – will celebrate together with the universal Church a Jubilee Year of Mercy. It will be a year of deep spiritual renewal, boundless forgiveness, and liberating service in our neighbourhoods, especially among those who suffer or struggle most.

 Mercy speaks of the very nature of God. We grapple to define it, for it brings us face to face with the mystery of God’s own being and actions. Yet we all recognise the times we have experienced mercy and, in the depths of our hearts, we all truly desire to be more merciful to others.

Our world, however, sometimes shows a hardened heart. The poor, minorities, those who do not conform to social norms are often seen as a nuisance, or are oppressed or even despised. Even more widespread is a prevailing culture of greed that treats other people as stepping stones rather than fellow human beings worthy of respect, and a listening and learning ear.

Within this context Pope Francis has declared a Jubilee Year of Mercy. Already his initiative has attracted great enthusiasm.  Rightly we sense that the power of mercy is a power for good, a power that springs from our faith, a power that stems from and leads to our loving God. Mercy resonates deep within us, as the baptized and confirmed People of God.

So, why a Jubilee Year? It is in the book of Leviticus – chapters 25 and 26 – that we learn about Jubilee Years. We encourage you to read these two chapters of the Old Testament. You may well be surprised at what you learn. Jubilee years are not a kind of soft, sanctimonious, experience. They are about justice and forgiveness, right relationship with God, with one another, and with the land. We learn in reading Leviticus that Jubilee Years bring God’s expectations of us into the nitty gritty of farming practices, land utilization, the property market, wages and salaries, debt relief, the setting of invoices and bills. When lived well, a Jubilee Year is a practical experience of the restoration of fairness and goodness, and therefore of grounded holiness where we experience the awe and joy of doing what is right in the eyes of God.

In one sense none of this is new. Yet we all recognize the need to be reminded from time to time to order our lives – our relationships at home, school and work, and our personal and family and community priorities and goals – in accordance with how Jesus wants us to be. Indeed, at the heart of the Jubilee Year is a renewed appreciation and respect for the Sabbath. For us, that is preserved in our commitment to participate and be nourished at Mass every Sunday and is brought home to us in the tough admittance that any excuse which pulls us away from Sunday Mass is nothing less than a false idol (cf. Leviticus 26:1-2).

What of mercy itself? The particular Jubilee we are about to live is cloaked in a wondrous korowai of God’s mercy. This enkindles within us the desire and duty to be merciful as God’s people.  We are sure each of you cherishes in your heart examples of mercy at work. No doubt we are all beginning to imagine what difference a concentrated Year of Mercy will make as each of us tries to become an “oasis of mercy” (Misericordiae Vultus 12). In our history Te Rauparaha, usually remembered as a ruthless warrior and strategist, also demonstrated in his life the power of mercy. As soon as he had embraced the Christian faith he straight away understood the futility of the utu or revenge which had entrapped him, and so he set out to release Ngai Tahu captives from the imprisonment he had previously promoted.

The Church, since Pentecost, has built on the Old Testament foundations of God’s mercy at work in history. Traditionally we have spoken of corporal or material works of mercy: feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, heal the sick, visit the imprisoned, give alms to the poor, bury the dead; and spiritual works of mercy: counsel the confused, instruct the ignorant, admonish sinners, comfort the afflicted, forgive offences, bear patiently those who do us ill, and pray for the living and the dead (cf. MV 15; Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2447).

If each of us is to grow in mercy like the Father then first and foremost this Jubilee Year will be a time of conversion both individually and communally. What might a more merciful family or school or parish or workplace or diocese look like?

We are not here to give answers but let us all look to the example the Holy Father, Pope Francis, is giving us. The personal motto he had as Archbishop of Buenos Aires he has retained as Pope. It reads miserando atque eligendo, and comes from a homily of Saint Bede the Venerable (Homily 21) in which he is commenting on the extraordinary choice of Jesus to include Matthew – the unpopular and probably corrupt tax collector – among his Apostles. Why would Jesus choose Matthew? How could Jesus choose him? The answer lies in the heart of Jesus: filled with mercy, Jesus is able to see Matthew in a new light; filled with mercy our Lord comprehends the tax collector Matthew in a new way; filled with mercy Jesus recognizes within Matthew an already existing goodness to which others had been blind.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we are delighted with this sacred year of grace, insight and action to which Pope Francis is calling the entire Church and, through us, offering to the entire world. We are already humbled by a growing sense that the fruits which this Year will bear will go far beyond our many hopes. May Mary, Mother of Mercy (Mater Misericordiae), St Peter Chanel, St Mary of the Cross Mackillop and the Servant of God Suzanne Aubert accompany and encourage us as we set forth as pilgrims stirred by a renewed resolve to be missionaries of forgiveness, justice and mercy.

+John Dew                                                                         +Patrick Dunn
Archbishop of Wellington                                                  Bishop of Auckland
President, NZCBC                                                               Secretary, NZCBC

+Stephen Lowe                                                               +Colin Campbell
Bishop of Hamilton                                                          Bishop of Dunedin

+Charles Drennan                                                           +Barry Jones
Bishop of Palmerston North                                            Bishop of Christchurch

+Peter Cullinane
Emeritus Bishop of Palmerston North

You can download a copy of the letter Pastoral Letter Mercy 061215.