December 4, 2015
The West Texas Catholic: Bishop Zurek, can we discuss some of the significant events of the Jubilee of Mercy that will take part in the Diocese of Amarillo?
Bishop Patrick J. Zurek: As we go through the year, there will be some very significant things that occur. Of course Lent is always a time of reconciliation. We are hoping to emphasize more and explain better the beauty and effects of Reconciliation and absolution given in that sacrament. Perhaps we will have better catechesis with various chapels opening up at different hours for celebration of the Sacrament of Penance, especially in Lent, but throughout the year. In March I hope to have a communal celebration of the Anointing of the Sick, in every parish, hopefully to be done between two weekends. That way the whole Catholic community will be doing this together; which will cause a new inertia in our souls for mercy!
The Fourth Sunday of Easter is Good Shepherd Sunday and we always use it as a World Day of Prayer for Vocations; we will do that. I hope to institute a new custom here, in which all will be asked to pray for Vocations to the Priesthood in all parishes, every Sunday of the year. Many countries celebrate Mothers and Fathers’ Days, but they also have Priests’ Day. In February we have a day for Religious and Consecrated Life. I would like to have a day for Priests and a day for Deacons so that in the parish there might be recognition and gratitude for those who serve as priests and as deacons. I also want to initiate on that day a diocesan prayer for priestly vocations so that we can have priests behind every altar and every pulpit, every weekend of every year.
From Sunday, March 27 through Saturday, May 14, which is the Easter Season, we hope to Confirm all those to be confirmed in the Faith next year. There will be five Celebrations of Confirmation. These ceremonies will take place by Deanery and the people of the Deanery will come to the Cathedral. We want to emphasize the importance of the Cathedral in the diocese and the beauty of the Holy Door, the Door of Mercy. It will remind us concretely as we walk through the Holy Door that we all are called to be merciful. They will be incredible celebrations and will allow the young people to see how many are being confirmed in their deanery next year. I think it will be an incredible event, just like the people in RCIA who are preparing to come into the church at Easter. They are a small group in any given parish; yet when they gather for the Rite of Election they are amazed at how many they are. They realize by their numbers the profound nature of what they are about to do at Easter. Adult Confirmation Candidates will join the youth of their respective Deanery for their confirmation.
The young people, we’re hoping at the Diocesan Youth Rally and beyond that at deanery gatherings, will be invited to make a solemn Profession of Faith, the Nicene Creed, that we say at Mass every Sunday. The Holy Father wants us to imbue, through that liturgy and the bishop who presides over it, the importance of all that is contained in the Creed—not only knowing the Creed, but in living it.
I am also thinking of a celebration for those who participate in the charitable mission of the Church, not only with Catholic Charities, but those who take communion to the sick, who distribute food, who visit those in prison, who paint houses, who help the needy, the invisible people and those on the periphery, or work in similar ways. We will have a celebration in the Cathedral to acknowledge them. I also hope to have bulletin inserts, not every Sunday because I don’t want you to get bored, on varying topics. One that is very significant is how many people we have who have never had their marriage blessed in the Church. Some have an impediment of a former marriage; many do not. I want to explain that through a bulletin insert—how that can be remedied and how they can receive the Mercy of Christ and get their marriages blessed so they can fully participate in the Sacrament of Matrimony.
These are a few thoughts of what is coming; we will not be overly burdened. We are going to use the liturgy as it is to do something special. We are going to look at homilies through the lens of Mercy. I want you to pray for me and my brother priests and deacons who will be involved in fleshing this out, as well as all those who lead departments in the diocese and participate in works of Catholic education and charity. It looks to be a very fruitful year. I ask you to open your hearts and minds to the great merciful love that God offers to each of us.
“Be merciful as the Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:36)