The Holy Door of North America’s first parish was reopened at Notre-Dame Cathedral, Quebec, for the Jubilee Year of Mercy over the weekend by the Archbishop of Quebec, Cardinal Gerald Lacroix.
“May all those who will walk through this door during the Jubilee of Mercy, whether they are faithful or far from the faith, experience an encounter that will allow them to let themselves be loved by a God that only desires their happiness," the cardinal told parishioners who filled the cathedral on December 12.
The cardinal celebrated Mass for hundreds of people gathered in the cathedral including Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard, whose bodyguards were discreetly placed all around the church.
Cathedrals around the world are joining the Holy Father, who officially opened the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica to launch the church’s “Year of Mercy" earlier this week. The jubilee year will end on November 20 in 2016 and Pope Francis has announced an opportunity for Catholics to obtain a plenary indulgence during the Year of Mercy by passing through a designated Holy Door during the Year of Mercy, or performing one of the corporal or spiritual works of mercy; and fulfilling the usual conditions of having the interior disposition of complete detachment from sin and receiving sacramental Confession and the Holy Eucharist,
During his homily, Cardinal Lacroix said that the Gospel expresses people’s “desire to live in joy, this aspiration for peace and serenity that manifest the deepest part of our being need to be converted".
“Throughout this Holy Year, let us open our eyes to see the suffering of the world, the wounds of our brothers and sisters, (and to) listen to the cries of victims of violence and war," he said.
One of the parishioners,Alessandra Paiva Cerf who stood waiting for the procession and the opening of the doors with her entire family: her two children, her husband, mother and mother-in-law said, “It is a family outing, At times like these, with all the violence, the doors need to be opened everywhere.God welcomes us despite our sins." Her daughter, Samara, 11, said her parents have explained to her about the Year of Mercy and that she felt blessed to be watching the procession.
Another Cathedral in Brazil Sao Paulo accommodated hundreds of people who stood outside the church on December 13 to see Cardinal Odilo Scherer open the Door of Mercy and usher in the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
The cathedral was one of six Sao Paulo churches that had doors of mercy opened that day.
One of the parishioners,Maria Aparecida de Jesus, 73, who sat on the steps of the Cathedral spoke to Catholic News Service saying “I am very happy to see this day,God knows we need to be forgiven for all the pain and suffering we have been causing each other this year, with all the wars and bombs."
She said the opening of the Door of Mercy was a sign Pope Francis wants to reach all Catholics.
“I am poor and will never have the opportunity to go outside Brazil, much less to the Vatican to walk through the doors, but Pope Francis gave me a gift, and let the ‘doors’ come to me." she added.
Cardinal Scherer told crowd gathered for the occasion, “God is a loving and compassionate Father".
The atmosphere was joyful and the pilgrims were all in high spirits. A group of Filipinos from Toronto was chatting and having a good time as they walked to the Holy Door. When asked what inspired 52 people to come by road on an 8-hour journey from Toronto to Quebec City, specifically for the opening of the Holy Door, Marie Soriano, the group’s organiser, simply said “because of our faith".