The works of mercy abounded in the jubilee year

A doorway designated as a Holy Door at the Cathedral of the Assumption for the Jubilee Year of Mercy is visible behind a choir Nov. 13. The Holy Door closed after the 5:30 p.m. Mass. Pope Francis will close the Holy Door at St. PeterÕs Basilica on Nov. 20 as the Year of Mercy closes. (Photo by Marnie McAllister)
A doorway designated as a Holy Door at the Cathedral of the Assumption for the Jubilee Year of Mercy is visible behind a choir Nov. 13. The Holy Door closed after the 5:30 p.m. Mass. Pope Francis will close the Holy Door at St. PeterÕs Basilica on Nov. 20 as the Year of Mercy closes. (Photo by Marnie McAllister)

By Ruby Thomas, Record Staff Writer

The Year of Mercy, which began Dec. 8, 2015, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, is coming to an end this weekend on Nov. 20, the feast of Christ the King.

Faithful around the Archdiocese of Louisville have dedicated thousands of hours to practicing the works of mercy in honor of the jubilee year.

Some recorded the number of hours and the details in a Mercy Passport — a small booklet created by the Archdiocese of Louisville earlier in the year that suggested various works of mercy. The archdiocese distributed 14,000 of these booklets, according to Cecelia Price, chief communications officer for the archdiocese.

Catholics also kept track of the number of hours they spent in acts of mercy by recording them at, she said. Days before the jubilee year closes, 12,442 hours have been recorded on that website.

Members of the Sacred Heart Academy soccer team were among those who heeded Pope Francis’ call to take God’s goodness out into the world during the jubilee Year of Mercy.
Jaclyn Puntillo, head soccer coach at Sacred Heart Academy, said during an interview at the school that the team wanted to get involved in the Year of Mercy to live the “Valkyrie values and become closer as a team.”

As a result, Puntillo said, she divided the 21-member team into seven groups and assigned each a corporal work of mercy. She also assigned each athlete a spiritual work of mercy to complete individually.

Senior Meredith Coleman, a member of Epiphany Church, and two of her teammates visited sick babies, including one who was born at 22 weeks, at the University of Louisville Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Coleman said the group decided to visit babies because of their interest in pro-life issues.

She said the fact that a baby can live outside the womb at 22 weeks underscored that life is “important from day one and until the day we die.”

Senior Sarah Buse and two of her teammates “clothed the naked” by collecting used clothing from family and friends. Buse said the threesome filled four large bags and delivered them to Catholic Charities. She and her teammates learned there are people in the community who struggle because they don’t have access to clothing, she said.

“We had the opportunity to talk about how having something like clean clothing provides stability,” said Buse.

Puntillo said the athletes practiced corporal works of mercy, about 20 hours worth, during the first two weeks of October, but said the team plans to continue them.

She believes the biggest impact came from the spiritual works or mercy. Students had to be “mindful” and work on them in their daily lives, she said. “It helped them recognize that you can bring mercy to the world through small gestures.”

Young people were not the only ones who heard and accepted the call to share God’s mercy during the jubilee year.

Elderly residents of Sacred Heart Home, 2120 Payne St., made small gestures to reach out to those with whom they live and to vulnerable individuals in the community, said Linda Schnieders, pastoral care coordinator at the home.

A group of six residents coordinated an effort to collect quarters, close to $220 worth, for human trafficking victims assisted by Catholic Charities of Louisville. The group collected quarters from other residents, visitors to the home and employees. Catholic Charities gives the money to victims of human trafficking so they can do their laundry.

Many of the residents of Sacred Heart Home were very active in different ministries before retirement, Schnieders noted. “They are aware of social justice issues and know that this is an important issue facing the church and the community.”

After retirement, she noted, some feel disconnected from the archdiocese, but this project made them feel like they were making a difference in the world.

Schnieders said the highlight of the Year of Mercy activities at Sacred Heart Home was the blessing and designation of its chapel doors as Holy Doors by Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz in early January.

Mass is celebrated in the chapel every morning at Sacred Heart Home she said. Holy Doors around the world are now being closed as the year comes to an end. The Cathedral of the Assumption’s Holy Doors were closed on Nov. 13.

As part of jubilee year celebration, residents led by a religious sister who lives at the home have been praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy every morning since June. They also pray the rosary every day.

The residents at Sacred Heart Home have also been praying at the bedsides of residents who are dying. A group of seven religious sisters who reside at the home take turns keeping vigil over dying residents.

Some of these acts have always been done at the home, said Schnieders, but during the Year of mercy residents are making a “conscientious effort to call on the Lord and ask for his mercy.”

Other acts of mercy performed by the faithful across the Archdiocese of Louisville include:

visiting people who are home bound and those in the hospital; volunteering at a hospital; donating food to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, the Schuhmann Center and St. Elizabeth Catholic Charities; teaching English as a Second Language at Kentucky Refugee Ministries; making and donating quilts to the Little Sisters of the Poor and helping a refugee family settle into their new home.

Some people extended mercy to others beyond U.S. borders by traveling to Central America to build homes for the needy in Belize and Nicaragua.

Marnie McAllister
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Marnie McAllister
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