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Thursday, August 11, 2016

Celebrating the Jubilee on the American Continent

The Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy is the fruit of the Holy Spirit’s strong and timely inspiration to Pope Francis. All Christians, Christian communities and their shepherds have been invited to contemplate more deeply the mystery of Mercy, an attribute of God, revealed and realized in its fullness by Jesus Christ and spread by the grace of the Holy Spirit. In this way, the Holy Father is guiding us to live this essential part of the Gospel as good news for individuals, families, peoples and nations. For this reason, from August 27th to the 30th, the continental Celebration of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy will be taking place in Bogotá (Columbia).

Along with the journey of the Jubilee year, being celebrated in Rome and in the local churches of the entire world, this event will constitute one of the great convocations on a continental level. More than 400 people from North America, Central America, South America and the Caribbean will gather to welcome and celebrate the gift of the Mercy of God revealed and realized fully in Jesus Christ by the action of the Holy Spirit.

The continental Celebration of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy was convoked and organized jointly by the Pontifical Commission for Latin America (CAL) and the Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM), in contact and collaboration with episcopates in the United States and Canada. The Church of the Americas will be assembled in Bogotá to live the Jubilee, a sign of the communion of the churches of the whole continent, mutually committed to celebrating and radiating the Gospel of Mercy from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego. Having passed the halfway point of the Jubilee Year already, in Bogotá the initiatives, experiences and works already carried out, as well as the fruits received, will be briefly summarized. The celebration proposes living this year of grace as a renewed impetus to the continental mission, especially in light of the Aparecida document and the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium.

Fifteen Cardinals and more than 120 Bishops are already registered along with participants from all nations of the continent. Rectors of National Marian Shrines, male and female religious superiors, heads of different works of mercy in American countries, American directors of associations, ecclesial movements and new communities, priests and lay people working in different ecclesial, social and popular areas will all be taking part. The event will be presided over by Cardinal Marc Ouellet, President of CAL, accompanied by his collaborators and by Cardinal Rubén Salazar, Archbishop of Bogotá and President of CELAM, who will also count on the coordination committee of the Latin American Episcopal Council.

An important audio-visual message from the Holy Father, Pope Francis, is expected for the inauguration of this celebration, which from its very first moment has had his full approval and encouragement.

Much more than a congress, this initiative constitutes a great event. And, for this reason, its program foresees only four addresses. The first address will be delivered by Archbishop Rino Fisichella, a significant presence, since he is the President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, to whom the Holy Father has entrusted everything related to the scheduling and organization of the Jubilee Year. This is the Great Time of Mercy, is the title of his conference, which will echo the Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee, especially when it affirms that From the heart of the Trinity, from the depths of the mystery of God, the great river of mercy wells up and overflows unceasingly. The second address, titled The Church, Sacrament of Mercy, will be given by Cardinal Marc Ouellet. Work groups will be guided to delve into and share the contents of these talks, in light of the different experiences, reflections and initiatives of the local churches of the continent.

The schedule includes a Penitential Liturgy at the very beginning of the Celebration, to encourage an examination of conscience and the supplication of mercy for all the participants, with personal confessions.

Another major moment of the Celebration will be dedicated to the American saints. Indeed, the entire event is being presented under the motto taken from an expression of Pope Francis from May 2, 2015 when he made the invocation: May a powerful gust of holiness sweep through all the Americas during the coming Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy!. This part will have as a prelude the third talk, to be offered by Father Eduardo Chavez, Canon of the Basilica of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a leading Charismatic expert of the Guadalupan event, who will speak about Holiness in the Times of Francis. Father Chavez will focus especially on the saint par excellence, the first disciple and missionary, the Mother of God and Mother of the American nations, to whom Pope Francis has a deep devotion, as he demonstrated once more when traveling through Mexico under the gaze and with the heart of Our Lady of Guadalupe. He is my merciful gaze, said Our Lady of Guadalupe to Saint Juan Diego of God , according to the narration of the Nican Mopohua. On the other hand, the Guadalupan event is at the origins of the formation of the American continent and its evangelization.

Immediately afterwards, some saints of the continent who stand out as witnesses of mercy will be presented, to gather up their legacy and consider the ways they edify the Church today and mark her mission. Several speakers will talk about the missionary saints of the first evangelization (Bishop Laval, José de Anchieta, Junípero Serra …), the saintly priests (Toribio de Mogrovejo, Rafael Guizar y Valencia, Brochero …), the saintly mystics (Rose of Lima, Mariana of Quito, Teresa of the Andes …), the saints of the defenseless (Peter Claver, Laura Montoya, Mother Cabrini …), the saints of charity (Martin de Porres, Katharine Drexel, Peter of Saint Joseph of Betancur …), the martyr saints (Mexican martyrs, Kateri Tekakwitha, Oscar A. Romero …), the educator saints (Miguel Febres Cordero, John Neumann …).

An entire day will be dedicated to Works of Mercy on the American continent. A panel will meet to discuss some of the most significant Works of Mercy, like the Hogar de Cristo (Christ’s Home) in Chile, the Fazendas da Esperanza (Hope Farms), Project Rachel, and migrant assistance centres and others. Additionally, all of the participants will be divided into groups that will visit different sites of corporal and spiritual works of mercy, especially in the poorest areas and environments of Bogotá, in its social and existential peripheries.

Finally, the theme of Mercy as the Soul of a Culture of Encounter, Forgiveness and Reconciliation on the American Continent will be confronted. This will be presented by the two voices of Archbishop Luis Augusto Castro Quiroga of Tunja, President of the Colombian Bishops’ Conference and Archbishop José Horacio Gómez of Los Angeles.

The American Celebration of the Jubilee of Mercy will conclude with a Continental Rosary for Peace, to be followed by the Holy Eucharist presided over by Cardinal Rubén Salazar Gómez and the concluding words will come from the Presidents of CAL and CELAM. Prayer for Pope Francis and for his ministry will be an accompanying element of the participants’ activities for the duration of the entire encounter.
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