Basilica of the Sacred Heart to open mercy doors in accordance with Jubilee

Author: Kate Morgan

Basilica of the Sacred Heart

In accordance with the Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at the University of Notre Dame will open a symbolic Door of Mercy on Dec. 13, the Third Sunday of Advent. The opening of the door will mark the beginning of the extraordinary Holy Year. Rev. Peter Rocca, C.S.C., Basilica rector, will preside over the rite, which will occur during the 10 a.m. Mass.

In April, Pope Francis announced that, starting Dec. 8, on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception and the 50th anniversary of the close of the Second Vatican Council, an Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy will be observed by the Catholic Church through November 2016. As with all jubilee years, the Year of Mercy will include the use of a Holy Door, a specially designated entrance that has spiritual and symbolic meaning for Catholics. Pope Francis will start by opening a Holy Door in St. Peter’s Basilica that remains sealed except during jubilee years.

On Dec. 13, the Holy Door of the Cathedral of Rome (the Basilica of Saint John Lateran) will be opened as will those at other Papal Basilicas and churches of special significance worldwide, including the doors of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. The symbolic opening of the mercy doors signifies the Basilica’s involvement in living out this Holy Year as an extraordinary moment of grace and spiritual renewal.

“By crossing the threshold of the Holy Door, we will find the strength to embrace God’s mercy and dedicate ourselves to being merciful with others as the Father has been with us,” Pope Francis wrote in his Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee.

Additional churches of special significance within the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend that will celebrate the Year of Mercy with the opening of their own Holy Doors are Saint Matthew Cathedral in South Bend and the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Wayne.

The Year of Mercy is an opportunity for Catholics worldwide to experience God’s healing mercy. Pope Francis encourages Catholics to forgive, listen to God’s Word and practice the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. He also encourages Catholics to go on pilgrimage and engage in interfaith dialogue to better understand one another and eliminate closed-mindedness, disrespect, violence and discrimination. At Notre Dame, students will have an opportunity to participate in a variety of mercy-themed events, including an online mercy retreat in which they can learn more about mercy and how to bring God’s mercy to others.

“The Year of Mercy provides an opportunity for us to both contemplate mercy and incorporate mercy into our own lives,” said Rev. Pete McCormick, C.S.C., director of campus ministry. “The opening of the mercy doors is only the first step in educating students about mercy, what mercy looks like and how they can cultivate mercy into their daily lives. We look forward to helping our students change their hearts and lives in order to become instruments of God’s mercy in everything they say and do.”

In the Catholic Church, a jubilee is proclaimed every 25 years. The last “ordinary” jubilee took place in 2000, marking the second millennial anniversary of Christ’s birth. This “extraordinary jubilee” is held outside the 25-year cycle. The last two jubilees were held in 1933 and 1983, marking the 1900th and 1950th anniversaries of Christ’s death and resurrection. This extraordinary jubilee year will close with the liturgical Solemnity of Christ the King on Nov. 20, 2016.

Through undergraduate, graduate, liturgical and music ministries, the Office of Campus Ministry fosters personal spiritual growth, encourages participation in the sacramental and liturgical life of the Church, supports other forms of worship and personal prayer, provides opportunities for pilgrimages, retreats and service, and seeks to enhance and develop lifelong faith formation. For more information, visit

Contact: Kate Morgan, associate director of communications, Office of Campus Ministry, 574-631-5241 (office), 574-440-4788 (mobile),