‘Experience the Presence of Jesus’ With Pope Francis
Churches Around the Globe Respond to Holy Father’s ‘24 Hours for the Lord’
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“I feel graced that our Holy Father has put adoration and reconciliation together,” said Father Joe Gibino, pastor of Holy Trinity in Whitestone, N.Y., about “24 Hours for the Lord,” Pope Francis’ invitation for adoration and confession on March 13-14.
“It is an event to celebrate God’s gift of mercy and forgiveness,” Father Gibino said.
The Pope will open the second annual Lenten initiative at St. Peter’s Basilica with a penitential celebration. He has invited churches worldwide to participate in some way to encourage repentance, prayer, contemplation of the Eucharist and a return to the Church.
Throughout Rome and around the world, churches will remain open during that time, some with confession and exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.
“It’s about relationship — with community, Our Lord and our Church,” Father Gibino said.
He explained that his parish is “doing it up big” since it coincides with the parish’s 50th anniversary.
“When I learned about this from ‘The Pope App’ on my phone, I thought, ‘Why reinvent the wheel?’”
Today, students from the parish school will stop in throughout the day for adoration. Benediction, Saturday evening Mass and a family gathering that includes supper and a talk will cap off the event.
Praying Around the World
The Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, which participated last year, announced that this year churches will remain open, with confession available, throughout the 24 hours in the Archdiocese of Armagh and the Dioceses of Cloyne, Derry, Elphin, Kerry, Kildare and Leighlin and Limerick.
Australia’s The Catholic Weekly reported, “The Church in Sydney will offer the antidote to the ‘globalization of indifference,’ as identified by Pope Francis, when it throws open the doors of St. Mary’s Cathedral for 24 hours as a response to the Pope’s invitation for a ‘festival of forgiveness.’”
In the Philippines, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference invited everyone to “stay united with the Holy Father in praying for a new era of mercy and compassion for the world.” Five churches in the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan will remain open for 24-hour adoration and confession.
San Francesco di Paulo Church in San Antonio is participating for the second year, according to Father Lawrence Christian, vicar general for the Archdiocese of San Antonio.
“Last year, priests were available to hear confession for the full 24 hours, and we have a full roster of two or three priests at a time again this year,” he said. “There were steady lines for confession most of the time and usually around 40 to 50 people in adoration throughout the day, but, of course, less during the nighttime hours.”
At St. Raphael’s in Fairbanks, Alaska, the bulletin announcing the event noted: “Remember, your prayers will be joined in unity with the prayers of Catholics around the world.”
In the Diocese of Lincoln, Neb., there will be exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and confession for the entire 24 hours at the Cathedral of the Risen Christ, beginning Friday at 6pm.
“Bishop [James] Conley wants to be in solidarity with Pope Francis’s desire to promote adoration and confession,” Father Daniel Rayer, chancellor for the diocese, told the Register. “Adoration is a great opportunity to experience the presence of Jesus in our lives, and through confession, we encounter the mercy that Jesus offers us and the forgiveness of sins.”
According to the Nebraska priest, Pope Francis often encourages his flock to take advantage of the sacrament of forgiveness. “During Christ’s life, people were drawn to him,” Father Rayer said. “They [modern Catholics] receive that same mercy through the priest in the person of Christ through confession.”
Getting the Word Out
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops put “24 Hours for the Lord” on its Lenten calendar of events, but several pastors dedicated to both Pope Francis and Eucharistic adoration called for this article were not aware of it.
The event was not widely publicized, according to Father Chas Canoy, pastor of St. John the Evangelist Church in Jackson, Mich. “If I did not run into the National Catholic Register article, I would not have known about it, so do not blame the pastors if they did not hear about it,” he said.
St. John’s already had a Eucharistic procession with adoration scheduled the following week, so it was moved up to March 13, to be in solidarity with the Pope. For people unable to find a participating church, Father Canoy suggested going to adoration and to confession on their own. “It is good to have them together,” he said. “The Lord moves our hearts in adoration, and when it moves, something usually needs to change, and confession helps facilitate that.”
Father Christian in San Antonio said that since Pope Francis made the announcement in February, just a month before the scheduled event, there was not much time to get the word out.
“The archbishop [Gustavo García-Siller] brought it to our staff as soon as he heard about it in February, and we had to very quickly post it on the diocesan website and send notifications out to all our parishes.”
Deacon John Lorenzo, who spearheads adoration at St. Mark the Evangelist parish in Southwest Ranches, Fla. — an effort that has grown from 32 adorers to more than 4,600 — had not heard about the Pope’s initiative until he was called for this article.
Now that he knows about it, he said he will share the information with his adorers.
He pointed out that in addition to adoration and confession, Pope Francis is calling the faithful to go out into the streets and bring people back to church. “Last year, in Rome, young people went into the squares and invited people to church with them,” Deacon Lorenzo said.
“That is something everyone can participate in. We can encourage those who have left the faith to return and go to confession, so they can be back in a relationship with Jesus.”
Patti Armstrong writes from North Dakota.
The Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, which has organized the ‘24 Hours for the Lord’ event, would like to hear how you participated by filling in the online form.