If students and staff at E. D. Feehan Catholic High School didn't already know about the Year of Mercy, they do now.
Most Reverend Donald Bolen, bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon, was at the school on April 5, 2016, to bless the door to the school's chapel and designate it a holy door during the Year of Mercy.
Leading the school's daily morning devotion, Bolen gave a short reflection on a Gospel reading. He shared a short story of a student who was preparing for first communion years ago. The student had one question about the prayer, "Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed," prayed before communion. He asked, "What is the word?"
The bishop responded, "It is the word Jesus speaks in each encounter with us. It's the word he speaks when he dies on the cross for us. It's the word that he speaks when he rises from the dead for us. The word is mercy.
"Mercy is a special kind of love, a special experience when we really mess up. Instead of receiving a harsh response, we receive compassion. We receive understanding. We receive kindness. Mercy is exactly the kind of response we human beings need from God."
Terry Cratty, a teacher at E. D. Feehan, explained that each door of the school has an image or scripture verse about mercy above its lintel. "Each door of the school is tied to the chapel door, which is tied to the door at the Cathedral of the Holy Family, which is tied to the holy door at St. Peter's in Rome," said Cratty. He explained that the imagery and themes of mercy on the chapel door are consistent with the bishop's motto of mercy and the Church's theme during the Year of Mercy: merciful like the Father.
A short ceremony was held in the chapel, where Bolen led a prayer of blessing. He stated that E. D. Feehan is the first school in the diocese to have a holy door during the Year of Mercy and only the fourth such door in the diocese (the other three are at the Cathedral of the Holy Family, St. Paul's Co-Cathedral and St. Thomas More College).
"The holy door is part of a pilgrimage," Bolen explained. "It's a symbolic concept—life itself is a pilgrimage. The holy door at the school is way for the school to be connected with what the Church is doing—it's a constant reminder of God's mercy."
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Want to know more about jubilees and holy doors? Read When is a Door Not Just a Door? When It's a "Holy Door" Everything you ever wanted to know about Holy Doors—what are they, when they are, and why you should walk through one