On December 8, 2015, the parishioners of ‘I. C. Church’, Borivli, as it is commonly and fondly known, seized the opportunity to make their celebrations more meaningful; they celebrated the feast of their Church, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, as well as inaugurated the Year of Mercy.
Things did not stop there. A committee, formed immediately after Pope Francis announced the plan for the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, meets every month to plan and put into place projects for the year. These projects set a clear goal to spread the message of mercy by example – a perfect working of the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy.
A week before the Year of Mercy commenced a session was held to reflect on the passages of the Bull of Indiction – Misericordiae Vultus. The enthusiasm of the crowd assured Fr. Barthol, the Parish Priest and head of the committee, that this momentum would be reflected in all the programmes lined up for the year. Prayer cards of an abridged version of the Official Prayer for the Year of Mercy were distributed at this session. Something as simple as the free distribution of prayer cards was a great and effective idea to ensure that the Jubilee Year began at home, during ‘family prayer time’.
A highlight of the many programmes that are lined up for the Year of Mercy is the ‘Coin Box’. This project is one of many that are applied in a practical manner, and so the project is aptly named ‘Mercy in Action’. It goes like this – For every Work of Mercy that a parishioner undertakes, he/she drops a rupee in one of the boxes placed in the church compound. The money collected at the end of the year will go to charity.
In this Holy Year, it is crucial to understand the significance of forgiveness – to seek and to offer. Another highlight was a 3-day inner healing retreat. The attendance once again amazed Fr. Barthol with their fervour to soak in everything that the retreat had to offer. The points that were covered included the importance of reconciliation, how to forgive others, and how to live one’s life in Christ. The attendees underwent “a forgiveness therapy”, and in doing so, they were ready to march forth into this Year of Mercy.
One of the programmes earlier in the year was a ‘thank you dinner’ for the 20 families who prepare snacks for sale after Sunday Mass. It was a small way to give back to the community. Other programmes that followed were a Christmas Hamper for the poor families in Borivli. The hamper included a ready-to-cook chicken, food grains and two redeemable coupons – one for D-Mart and the other for McDonalds. The reason behind the coupons, Fr. Barthol explained, was that these families have always heard about and seen these stores but have never had the opportunity to enter in for a simple meal or to shop. The goal was to make a “family day out” possible for these families.
“Groom Yourself For Life” – another planned event – was a session that provided guidance on ways to improve lifestyle by walking with Christ who is the Way, Truth and Life.
If you visit the Church in Borivli, the many posters strategically placed within the premises will catch your eye. The banners and poster can be clearly seen from outside the church compound and are written in Hindi and English, making their appeals to everyone passing by.
They ask you to “be merciful like your Heavenly Father is merciful”. They list the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy, keeping them always on the mind and you ever ready to carry them out. They also remind you of the events and programmes for the Year of Mercy and Lent, lest you forget. Theposters are replaced every month, displaying messages in keeping with the Year of Mercy.
It could be said that the Year of Mercy
is keeping the parishioners busy, but instead let’s say that the parishioners have taken the initiative and grabbed the opportunity this year presents, leaving no stone with regard to mercy – its worth, impact and implications.
That would be a great line to end with. This one would be too – “Mercy, Mercy, to love is to forgive.” *
(*Taken from the official song, which was composed by a parishioner specifically for the Year of Mercy. Yes, they’ve been enthusiastically busy.)