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Bishop Paul Sirba: Year of Mercy has been full of graces so far

Graces abound during the Jubilee Year of Mercy.

On a recent visit to St. James School in Duluth, I had the privilege of celebrating an all school Mass prepared by the fifth graders. I also visited the classrooms for some Q&A, got an excellent tour from the principal and visited with the parents, staff and priests.

Bishop Paul Sirba
Bishop Paul Sirba
Fiat Voluntas Tua

The kids were wonderfully prepared for Lent and the Jubilee Year of Mercy. Great work, teachers!

In one of the primary grades, students had learned how to recite the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and the rosary. I asked if they could name some of the mysteries of the rosary for me, and one of the youngsters announced a sorrowful mystery as, “When Jesus got whacked by the bad guys” — different title than I learned, but it sure communicated the mystery.

The middle school students presented me with a series of essays on the Jubilee Year. The essays were bound together in a volume with original artwork on the cover. Many quoted a Pope Francis tweet, “Let the Church always be a place of mercy and hope, where everyone is welcomed, loved and forgiven.”

Pope Francis has set the bar high and challenged all of us to live this Lent “more intensely as a privileged moment to celebrate and experience God’s mercy” (Misericordiae Vultus, 17).

We spoke about the relevance of the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy in our lives and reset some of our goals for this Lent. I proposed a visit to the Cathedral and a walk through the Holy Door to gain the indulgence.

The youngsters were so receptive. I am grateful for the work of our Catholic schools and religious education programs!

‘Welcome home!’

The Rite of Election provided an opportunity to welcome the adult members of our communities who will be fully initiated into the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil.

How exciting for our Church to witness the grace and mercy of God penetrating the souls of these beautiful men and women, soon to be Catholics. Welcome home! What joy and talent you bring to our local Church.

Our men’s and women’s conferences brought together hundreds of men and women from around the diocese. We listened to dynamic speakers, Father Bill Baer and Trent Klatt at the men’s conference and Colleen Carroll Campbell at the women’s conference.

They provided us the spark to help us fan into flame our faith in Jesus Christ. The seeds of the New Evangelization continue to take root as a result of the conferences. Thank you to the organizers and participants! Please plan on attending next year.

Along with Pope Francis and the dioceses throughout the world, we will be celebrating a full 24 hours of confessions March 4-5 at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary. I think this marks a first for us in the diocese.

We begin with a penance service for the priests at noon on March 4, hear confessions throughout the afternoon, evening, night and next morning until noon on March 5. Please avail yourself of the graces of the Sacrament of Mercy.

Hopefully, by the time you receive this edition of The Northern Cross, Real Presence Radio will make its debut in the Diocese of Duluth.

WWEN FM 88.1 will provide Catholic programming to the cities of Duluth and Superior. What a blessing to our diocese!

This has been a desire of mine since becoming your bishop. Thanks to the providence of Almighty God and some enterprising lay Catholics, Real Presence Radio has expanded its service from North and South Dakota into Minnesota.

Stay tuned to Real Presence Radio at FM 88.1.

Bishop Paul D. Sirba is the ninth bishop of Duluth.