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Father Kaz Chawlek, MIC, opens the Shrine's Holy Doors last year at the beginning of the Jubilee Year of Mercy. On Nov. 19, he will lead a Holy Mass at the Shrine to mark the closing of the Jubilee Year.

Shrine Will Bring Its Jubilee Year to a Close

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By Melanie Williams (Nov 10, 2016)
On Nov. 19, 2016, the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, will celebrate the close of the extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy. The rector of the Shrine, Fr. Anthony Gramlich, MIC, wanted to share how the Jubilee Year has affected the Shrine and its mission and how the faithful can go forward at the close of the Jubilee Year:

The Shrine has had a designated Holy Door this Jubilee Year. Will the Holy Door of Mercy close at the Shrine?
When we created the letters above the door of the Shrine that say "Holy Door of Mercy," we made it permanent. Yes, the indulgence of the Holy Door from the Year of Mercy will have ended, but the Vatican has granted an indulgence to anyone who visits the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy at any time of any year, so the door will remain as a symbol of mercy.

How has the Jubilee Year of Mercy impacted the Shrine?
We have had enormous increase in pilgrims this year. I've seen an increase year by year, but this year in particular, we have had to institute having three or four confessors on a Saturday, because our usual two were not enough to hear all of the people coming for Confession. Even with four, and sometimes five confessors on a Saturday, they have been hearing Confessions for an hour to two hours each. Each confessor hears about 20 to 30 Confessions in that span of time. That's hundreds of Confessions every Saturday, and we hear Confessions every other day of the week as well. People come from all over, specifically for Confession. We have had a lot of people coming back to the Church, and they come here to do it, by the message of Divine Mercy.

What would you encourage people to do before the end of the Year of Mercy?
Definitely the Jubilee Year indulgence, but even more than that — experience God's mercy in your life. Even if someone has experienced God's mercy in the past, maybe they have fallen away, and this is a new opportunity to experience God's mercy and come back. The Father has His arms wide open, welcoming His children home with love and mercy, not condemnation. When people experience that, it is life changing. Then they can start living mercy in their own lives, then in their families, work places, and schools through works of mercy, which we are heavily promoting at the Shrine through the Association of Marian Helpers. Becoming a Marian Helper gives people the opportunity to give back after having received Divine Mercy.

After the closing of the Jubilee Year, what is next?
The closing is not the "end of Divine Mercy." It may be the closing of a special opportunity, but Divine Mercy remains. Pope Francis wants every church to leave some kind of memento to remember this year, and so we are in the planning process of what we are going to do at the Shrine for that. Certainly, for the year 2017, we are going to emphasize the hundredth anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima. I'm already planning to have major celebrations on May 13 and Oct. 13, 2017, the anniversaries of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima.

Come join the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception for the closing of the Jubilee Year at the 2 p.m. Mass at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy on Nov. 19. The main celebrant will be the Very Rev. Kazimierz Chwalek, MIC, provincial superior of the Marian Fathers in the United States and Argentina. All are invited to attend. Visit marian.org/shrine for more information.

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