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COLUMBUS—In the principal archdiocesan celebration of the Holy Year of Mercy, some 800 Catholics from across central and southern Indiana and beyond gathered on Oct. 8 at St. Bartholomew Church in Columbus to learn about Mary and God’s mercy, pray the rosary, reflect on how they’ve received and given mercy, and consider how to share God’s compassion in the future.
The Marian Jubilee featured a procession with a statue of Mary, a reflection by Cardinal-designate Joseph W. Tobin (see article on page 12) and two presentations by best-selling Catholic author and speaker Scott Hahn.
The attendees came from 75 archdiocesan parishes and 13 from beyond the archdiocese.
(Related: See videos from the event here)
“I think it’s fantastic, especially at a time like this,” said jubilee attendee Justin Brand of St. Malachy Parish in Brownsburg of the many faith communities represented at the event.
“It’s easy to lose perspective on the impact of the Church and how big the Church truly is as a community. So, being able to see all of these people come together for one purpose, to hear about Mary and understand her impact on the Church, is great.”
Hahn, a professor of biblical theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville in Steubenville, Ohio, said in his opening presentation that “God’s mercy is what happens when you coordinate all of his attributes. His power, which is unlimited. His knowledge, which is infinite. His goodness and his love.
“When you coordinate all of those attributes, you discover that mercy is God’s all powerful love in action,” Hahn explained.
And that was perfectly and completely embodied in Jesus’ death on the cross in which God “took the single greatest evil in all of history, and turned it into the wellspring of salvation for the whole human race.
“If God can bring about the single greatest good from the single greatest evil—this is the demonstration of mercy, justice, knowledge, power and a love that goes beyond those feelings,” Hahn said. “It is love in action. That’s what mercy is.
“That’s why we celebrate. That’s why we give at least a yearlong jubilee to get it, because it doesn’t come easy. It didn’t even come easily for our Lord to reveal it.”
In between the reflections and presentations, the attendees prayed decades of the rosary as led by representatives of various groups of the faithful in the archdiocese, including Burmese Catholics and the deaf Catholic community.
In his second presentation, Hahn focused on Mary as the Mother of Mercy, which, he said, is tied to her spiritually enduring Christ’s passion as she stood before the cross.
In the midst of her agony, Christ made her the mother, not only of the beloved disciple who stood beside her, but also of “all those who were there slandering him, torturing him and executing him,” and the rest of humanity who through their sins share in the guilt for his death.
“It is our sins that bear false witness and slander him,” Hahn said. “It’s our sin, more than nails, that put him on the cross. She gave consent to not only allow him to die, not only to become the mother of the beloved disciple, but allowing him to work through her powerful prayers to transform his executioners into her beloved children.”
He encouraged his listeners to pray the rosary always, especially when they are suffering.
“Nothing can invoke the all-powerful compassion of God the Father working through the Mother of God as much as when we’re weak and in distress,” Hahn explained. “His strength is made perfect in our weakness. He does more with our less. And so let’s take hold of this amazing grace called the holy rosary, … not just for the rest of the jubilee of divine mercy, but for the rest of our lives, for all eternity.”
At the end of the Marian Jubilee, the attendees were invited to quietly meditate upon how they’ve received God’s mercy through the holy year, sought to share it with others, and to consider ways to continue doing so beyond the holy year through a “mercy pledge” offered through social media, e-mail, a text message or on cards distributed in the church.
“It was a good way to make people sit down and think while you’re still engrossed in it as far as what it means to you going on from here for the next step,” said attendee Tom Parker, a member of
St. Mary Parish in Greensburg. “It provided more for me to think about and to try to get more involved in providing mercy to others as we go forward.”
Anna McNulty appreciated the Marian Jubilee as a “little boost to make us live our faith more. Things like this are great for that.
“If you’re pushed to say how you’re going to do it, you’ll be that much more likely to do it,” said the young adult member of St. Joseph Parish in Jennings County.
Father Clement Davis, pastor of St. Bartholomew Parish, was proud of how the members of his faith community worked together to host so many Catholics from across central and southern Indiana.
“It was great and worked well,” he said. “We at St. Bartholomew enjoy hosting events, the diversity of the archdiocese and of our community and seeing everybody come together for something that involves prayer and learning.”
Ken Ogorek, archdiocesan director of catechesis and an organizer of the event, was equally grateful for the way the jubilee came together as “the total package” in its inspiring prayer, presentations and gathering of faith-filled Catholics from across the archdiocese.
“I’ve been doing this kind of ministry for 19 years,” he said, “and this is definitely one of the most awesome experiences I’ve ever been involved in planning and participating in.”
(Staff writer Natalie Hoefer contributed to this story.) †