Closing of the Jubilee Year of Mercy

Closing of the Jubilee Year of Mercy and Holy Door at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Sligo, Sunday 13th November 2016

The Jubilee Year of Mercy drew to a close on Sunday 13th November 2016 in the dioceses of the world.  In the Diocese of Elphin, Bishop Kevin Doran celebrated Mass at Sligo Cathedral in thanksgiving to God for the graces received during the Jubilee Year.  Before the end of Mass, Canon Tom Hever, Administrator of the Cathedral, locked the Holy Door and presented the key to Bishop Doran.  Members of the Cathedral Parish Pastoral Council also presented Bishop Doran with the plaque from the Holy Door as well as two visitors’ books containing the names of those who passed through the Holy Door on deanery and school pilgrimages during the year.  The assembly were led in song by the Sligo Cathedral Choir. 

Summary of words from Bishop Doran

At this time of year, the Church invites us in the liturgy to reflect on endings and beginnings. There may be times when it seems that the world as we know it is falling apart, but our experience of life – like faith – tells us that, where there is an ending, there is always a new beginning. There will always be people (politicians, generals, entrepreneurs, philosophers and religious leaders) who present themselves as “the one” with all the answers. Jesus reminds us in the Gospel today that, there is really only One and, before he comes, we are called to live, in faith, through the struggles facing our world and its people.

In this Jubilee of Mercy which is just ending, Pope Francis has given us some food for thought on how we can be lifted up by God’s mercy and how we can become in our turn missionaries of mercy to one another. This is how we will live through these challenges with our heads held high. The Door of Mercy is closing today, but the door is only a physical symbol of that other door which remains always open; the door of God’s heart. I hope that a door has also opened, and will remain open, in our own hearts too. Make no mistake about it, the confessionals, which are the visible sign par excellence of God’s mercy will not be closing. I know that our priests would want me to say that, within reason, they are always available to be ministers of reconciliation, in or out of the confessional. You only have to ask. It is in this sacrament that each one of us will receive the strength to constantly seek new ways of going out to one another in mercy.

An overview of events in the Diocese of Elphin during the Jubilee Year

On December 13th last year, Bishop Kevin opened the Holy Door in our Cathedral; a unique honour given to every diocese throughout the world by Pope Francis for this Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy.

Many events took place to mark this Jubilee Year, these are some of the highlights. 

Parishes from each of the six deaneries of Athlone, Boyle, Castlerea, Strokestown, Roscommon and Sligo, came to the Holy Well and the Holy Door on pilgrimage in April, May, June, August and October.  On Garland Sunday in late July, pilgrims took part in the Camino of Mercy at dawn from the Holy Door to the Holy Well. 

Many of our priests heard confessions for a 24 hour period during Lent, an initiative known as “24 Hours for the Lord”.  For the remainder of the year many parishes throughout the diocese, including the Cathedral, had extended hours of confessions. 

Bishop Kevin celebrated several special Jubilees of Mercy around the diocese – Jubilee for those devoted to the spirituality of Divine Mercy, Jubilee for the Sick, Jubilee for the Unborn and their parents, Jubilee for the Family and just last weekend, the Jubilee for Prisoners held in Castlerea Prison, coinciding with that led by Pope Francis in St Peter’s Basilica that same morning. 

Pilgrimage continued to be a feature throughout the year with a diocesan pilgrimage to Lough Derg in June, a youth pilgrimage to World Youth Day festival in Krakow in July and the annual diocesan pilgrimages to Knock and Lourdes in August.  All of these pilgrimages focused particularly on Mercy. 

Our schools, both primary and post-primary, were very involved with the Jubilee Year.  For the month of October they came on pilgrimage to the Holy Door, reflecting on Mercy in Action, taking Fr. Flanagan and Mother Teresa as models. Over 800 primary and post primary school children and their teachers took part. A conference on Education and Mercy was held at Summerhill College here in Sligo on September 24th.  On the day prior to the conference, September 23rd, known as Mercy Day, students in primary and post-primary schools around the diocese held a prayer service on the theme of Mercy. 

Many students and young people from Youth Action Project Sligo also took part in several art projects on Mercy, some of which are displayed here today. 

Throughout the year, countless numbers of people took the initiative themselves to cross the threshold of the Holy Door in response to God’s invitation to come home to mercy.  

And so it is with grateful thanks for the great mercy the Lord has shown us, and will continue to show us, that we conclude this Year of Mercy.  The Administrator of the Cathedral, accompanied by members of the Cathedral’s Parish Pastoral Council, have now locked the Holy Door and are processing forward with the key, with the familiar plaque that identified the Door, and books bearing the names of many of the pilgrims who came on Deanery days and from our schools.  These symbols of the year will be handed to Bishop Kevin and they will be placed in the sanctuary. Later this month, the plaque will be permanently displayed inside the Cathedral and the books will be transferred, for safe keeping, to the Diocesan Archive along with other mementos of this Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy.

(All photos by Patricia McCaffrey)


Entrance area at the Holy Door



Canon Tom Hever and members of the Parish Pastoral Council gather to close the Holy Door



Canon Hever, Administrator of the Cathedral, closes the Holy Door



Canon Hever presents Bishop Kevin will the key to the Holy Door



A member of the PPC presents Bishop Kevin with the plaque from the Holy Door



Two members of the PPC present Bishop Kevin with books containing the names of those who came on pilgrimage to the Holy Door 



The display with plaque, books and key