During the week of Monday 19 – Friday 23 September 2016, Catholic Churches across South-East Wales and Herefordshire will be opening their doors as part of an initiative led by Pope Francis.
For hundreds of years, people have gone on pilgrimage to Rome during special “Holy Years”. As part of their journey, pilgrims would pass through a Holy Door at a major church in the city. Now, Pope Francis has asked churches across the world to open similar doors so people can perform a pilgrimage to their local Holy Door during 2016, the Pope’s “Year of Mercy”.
The Archbishop of Cardiff, the Most Revd George Stack, asked that Holy Doors be opened in Merthyr, Bridgend and Newport as well as at Cardiff’s St David’s Cathedral and Hereford’s Belmont Abbey. Last weekend he called on Catholics across the Diocese to invite a friend or colleague to come to one of a series of meals to be served in these churches throughout the third week in September.
Project leader Revd Gareth Leyshon said: “Pope Francis wants us to make Catholic Churches accessible to people who wouldn’t traditionally visit one. Throughout this special year, our churches have displayed banners with the Pope’s words that ‘No-one is excluded from God’s mercy.’ We wanted to reach an audience who would not normally travel to a Holy Door, so next week we’re offering a simple meal and a 10-minute talk about why the Holy Door is an invitation for everyone to find their place in a local Catholic congregation.”
The event is also an opportunity for those who were once members of a Christian church to make a new start and to find out about how they can be welcomed by their local Catholic community. Project team member Frank Callus, a retired teacher, commented: “There are many people who have been put off Church in the past. Pope Francis knows that and wants the Church to be particularly welcoming at this special time, making it clear that God is a God of mercy and forgiveness.”
Dozens of parishioners from across the host churches have signed up to work with the twelve core team members who will travel daily to the different doors to support this project, making it the largest initiative of its kind to be offered by the Archdiocese of Cardiff this century.
Other initiatives to make the Holy Doors more accessible include a portable Holy Door currently travelling around different churches in North Wales, and a door in Rome opened by Pope Francis himself, not in a church but in a shelter for the homeless. The Catholic Church has never been more open for the curious!
Belmont Abbey, Hereford
1pm / 6:30pm
St Aloysius, Merthyr Tydfil (with shuttle bus to St Mary’s after food)
12:15pm / 4:00pm / 7pm
St Mary’s, Stow Hill, Newport
4pm / 7pm
St Mary’s, Ewenny Road, Bridgend
4pm / 7pm
St David’s Cathedral, Cardiff
1:30pm / 5pm / 7:30pm