Dear Parishioners: 12_24_mary_and_joseph_donkey_Nazareth_Advent is here! We don purple vestments and sing the ancient hymns as we call out: “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel!” We acknowledge that Christ is indeed with us and at the same time we await His glorious return. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in an Advent homily stated: “In Advent, Christians relive a dual impulse of the spirit:  on the one hand, they raise their eyes towards the final destination of their pilgrimage through history, which is the glorious return of the Lord Jesus; on the other, remembering with emotion his birth in Bethlehem, they kneel before the Crib.” Yes, Advent is here! Prepare the way for Christ to come!

We can do that at OLM in many ways. First, by coming to Mass faithfully we deepen our relationship with the Eucharistic Lord. We can also cleanse7c1ab972930b81905e9415f14a648038 our souls in Confession. It is truly a great way to prepare the way. This week the Church across the globe begins the Jubilee Year of Mercy called forth by Pope Francis. It is a time for the Church to celebrate God’s mercy. The Year of Mercy begins on Tuesday, December 8th on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This Jubilee Year of Mercy concludes on the Feast of Christ the King in November 2016.  Pope Francis declared this year and called upon the entire Church to reflect on God’s mercy—His love for those who are suffering, those who are in need, and those who are afflicted by sin. He has called for a renewed commitment to God’s Mercy in the Sacrament of Penance. He has also asked that we gain a deeper understanding of the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy.

On the Holyday on Tuesday Bishop Tobin celebrates the 9AM OLM School 0089Mass and inaugurates the Year of Mercy for the entire Church of Providence. We will also have the regular schedule of Holyday Masses with a 5PM Vigil on Monday and Holyday Masses at 7:30AM, 9AM and 7PM on Tuesday. I hope you make it to Mass for the Holyday and if you can I invite you to join with Bishop Tobin at the 9AM Mass. It is as special time for our Church and for our Parish which is dedicated to Our Lady of Mercy.  I hope and pray it may strengthen our commitment to the Works of Mercy as a Church and as a Parish. It is an opportunity to encourage Christians to meet people’s “real needs” with concrete assistance, to experience a “true pilgrimage” on foot, and to send “missionaries of mercy” to forgive even the most serious of sins.

Next Saturday following the 4PM Mass we gather as a parish for a Work of Mercy, “Feeding the Hungry.” We are to pack 20,000 meals for the hungry in Africa as part of the Catholic Relief Services Helping Hands initiative. 281665760_640Last year was our first time with this project and it was a sterling success. I am grateful to Kathy Bennett for organizing it here at OLM. If you are interested in helping us and also having a fun and faith-filled evening please sign up. It is truly a great family event and open to every man, woman and child of any age in the parish. Help us take up the Year of Mercy by offering your helping hands to feed the hungry!

We have planned other Works of Mercy events throughout the upcomingJubilee of Mercy year. Also there is to be an All-Day Confession event across the entire state in March during the Lenten Season. Pope Francishas said: “This Jubilee Year, may the Church echo the Word of God that resounds strong and clear as a message and a sign of pardon, strength, aid, and love .” Advent continues on and so should our preparation for the coming of Christ. As the Year of Mercy commences let us commit as individuals and as a parish family to making Mercy flourish in our community, our state and our nation. Let us seek out God’s mercy in Confession and let us put into action the Works of Mercy. I am away this weekend at a meeting of the National Association of State Catholic Conference Directors in Washington, DC. I am grateful to Vocation Director Fr. Fisette for covering in my absence. See you at Mass on the Holyday. Be well. Do Good. God Bless. Go Pats!