When Pope Francis declared this a year of Mercy he challenged all of us to be more merciful. In East Palo Alto, one parish priest was looking for a way to celebrate this year but to also dedicate “24 hours to the Lord.”
Father Larry Goode had this idea swirling around in his head but wasn’t sure if his parish would be interested. He decided to bring it up at the parish council meeting one evening and was shocked by the response.
“They all loved it.”
Every county in California has one designated Holy Door of Mercy, Father Goode suggested a pilgrimage to the one located just down the road from their parish at St. Patrick’s Seminary. The idea quickly caught on and Father Goode had to do very little to promote it.
On a dreary Saturday morning, around 80 parishioners met despite the rain to embark on the pilgrimage. The first stop was to give thanks at their mother church, Church of the Nativity. Located about three and half miles away, they prayed the rosary during the journey and listened to Father John Coleman reminisce about his many years at St. Francis.
Beloved by this community, at 90, Father Coleman is actively involved in the parish and despite an assault last year outside the church, he was able to walk a good part of the way. “Having him there with us was very special. He was determined to walk with us.” said Goode.
After visiting the Church of the Nativity, they set out for St. Patrick’s Seminary to walk through the Holy Door of Mercy and attend mass. The focus of the "24 Hours for the Lord" in Rome was on the Sacrament of Reconciliation which was also a big part of the St. Francis pilgrimage.
Father Goode was impressed with the cooperation and dedication of the group, “everyone pitched in and helped, it was a real community effort.” He knows it was successful because everyone keeps asking when the next one will be. Now he just has to figure out a way to top his great idea!
A very special thanks to Father Goode for sending us this wonderful story of mercy. Please send us what your parish is doing to celebrate this Extraordinary Year of Mercy to firstname.lastname@example.org.