The Holy Father, Pope Francis, opened the Holy Doors at St. Peter’s in Rome, and the eagerly awaited Jubilee Year of Mercy commenced. A continent away, the parishioners of St. Blaise Church, Amboli, in the Archdiocese of Bombay, also eagerly looked forward to being active participants! They recognised the significance of contributing in a world so in need of compassion. Grateful that the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy gave them direction for living the Jubilee Year, they systematically, humbly and gladly undertook the work at hand. “We wanted to translate the Works of Mercy into action,” Fr. Franklyn said, as he explained the reason and rationale behind the Corporal Works.
Many associations of the parish like the Women’s Group and the Small Christian Communities as well as individual parishioners started projects that will be carried out through this Year of Mercy and beyond that as well. They ‘Fed the Hungry’ through a project called Roti Bank. Meals were cooked, packed and distributed to the poor on the streets. The effort was combined – many sponsored the meals, many helped in preparing the meal boxes and many leant a hand in delivering them. They ‘Clothed the Naked’ the same way. Donated, packed and delivered. Everyone who contributed played a very important role. Together, many can help many more.
The projects that were undertaken to ‘Give Drink to the Thirsty’ included installing water pumps in the drought-affected village, Karwande, in the diocese of Nashik. The parish printed cards with tips on reducing wastage of water and distributed these to the parishioners. For the summer, a project called Pyaas will be set into motion. Earthen pots of water will be placed in every Small Christian Community for passers-by to quench their thirst. This gesture personifies Mother Teresa’s words – “Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love.”
Monetary aid will help in buying tarpaulin sheets for chawls during the monsoons. Funds collected will also be made available to those who are unable to pay a month’s rent. That is how the parishioners of St. Blaise will go about ‘Sheltering the Homeless’.
Special Masses and prayer services were held for the sick. Priests of the parish make it a point to often ‘Visit the Sick’ especially those who are housebound, listening to confessions and offering to pray with them. The parish of St. Blaise, Amboli also encourages shroud burials for ‘Burying the Dead’, which helps to conserve the environment.
Other programmes for this year include educating domestic helpers in the use of technology, a visit to Mary’s Clan and conducting an inter-religious dialogue to facilitate mutual respect and understanding among people of different faiths.
Lenten Missions based on the theme of Mercy will take the parishioners further along this Jubilee Year.
Prayer cards were given to every parishioner, which cover: the Prayer for the Jubilee Year, St. Francis’ prayer (Make me a channel of your peace), the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy, Psalm 51, the Parable of the Merciful Father (better known as the Parable of the Prodigal Son.) The logo of the Jubilee Year graces the tri-fold, pocket-sized card.
A ‘Lenten Calendar for the Year of Mercy’ featuring deeds for every day of this season of Lent, were also distributed. Mentioned in this calendar are little acts like offering refreshments to security guards, lending a hand to the elderly in their daily chores and praying with others.
St. Blaise, Amboli has a lot planned, and the parishioners are looking forward to the action throughout this Year of Mercy.
“We should, because we can!” becomes a mighty slogan indeed when a parish demonstrates it so powerfully!