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Churches across arch/dioceses respond to Pope’s initiative ‘24 hours for the Lord’


Prayinf-over is one of the services offered during the "24 Hours for the Lord" at Stella Maris Tg Aru Mar 4.
Praying-over is one of the services offered during the “24 Hours for the Lord” at Stella Maris Tg Aru Mar 4.

KOTA KINABALU – Churches across arch/dioceses worldwide responded to the Pope’s initiative to have a “24 Hours for the Lord” on 4-5 March 2016.

Pope Francis has invited every parish in every diocese around the world to open its doors for 24 hours on the Friday and Saturday preceding the Fourth Week of Lent so that the faithful might encounter Jesus Christ anew in the Sacrament of Confession and Eucharistic Adoration.

The Lenten initiative, organised by the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelisation, was called “24 Hours for the Lord.” It was intended also to be a time of reflection and prayer, an opportunity to  speak with a priest, and a chance to rediscover — or perhaps discover for the first time — the great mercy at the heart of the Catholic Faith.

Dioceses, parishes and communities around the world were invited to adapt the initiative to their local situations and needs.

Pope Francis opened the initiative on March 4 in St Peter’s Basilica, and heard confessions from the faithful.  After the opening, several churches in key locations throughout Rome remained open for 24 hours, with confessors available and Eucharistic Adoration.

The pontiff spoke of the initiative in his Bull of Indiction of the Jubilee Year of Mercy when he announced the Extraordinary Jubilee in April 2015 “So many people, including young people, are returning to the Sacrament of Reconciliation; through this experience they are rediscovering a path back to the Lord, living a moment of intense prayer and finding meaning in their lives.  Let us place the Sacrament of Reconciliation at the centre once more in such a way that it will enable people to touch the grandeur of God’s mercy with their own hands.  For every penitent, it will be a source of true interior peace.”

In KK Archdiocese, Archbishop John Wong and his priests decided in their January meeting that on March 4 all parishes in the archdiocese would open their doors and adapt the initiative to their individual parish needs.

For the cathedral, confession and Eucharistic Adoration were held from 8:00 am-12:00 noon, and again from 7:30 pm-9:30 pm.

At Stella Maris Church Tanjung Aru confession was made available during the two time slots of 12 noon-2:00pm and 7:30 pm-9:30 pm.  During these times of confession, praying-over and counselling were administered to those in need,  while intercessory prayers, Rosary prayer, and Divine Mercy Prayer were offered for the intentions of imploring God’s Mercy for the whole world, for conversion of sinners, and for the renewal of the Catholic Church so that it may become the agent of mercy for the world.

The ‘24 Hours for the Lord’ initiative took off with the Stations of the Cross in the evening of Mar 4 at Holy Rosary Limbahau, followed by 24-hour Eucharistic Adoration, and concluded with the Sunset Mass on Mar 5.  Over twenty groups from both Holy Rosary and St Joseph Papar began their penitential journey with the ceremonial rite of entering and passing through the Holy Door, and ending in silent adoration before the Blessed Sacrament.

Many joined the morning Mass on Mar 4 at St Michael Penampang as it opened its doors after Mass for confession and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.  The initiative ended with Stations of the Cross in the evening at 7:30 pm.

However, taking up the initiative posed a greater challenge for St Peter Claver Ranau which oversees seven zones.  The pastors went to the peripheries of the seven zones, “as a true breath of the Holy Spirit” (Misericordiae Vultus 4.), “bringing the goodness and tenderness of God” (Misericordiae Vultus 5.), and being a “Church that is called to be a credible witness to mercy” (Misericordiae Vultus 25.)

Every chapel was offered a time slot of two-hour confession and Eucharistic Adoration.  The initiative began on Mar 4 and ended on Mar 5 midnight at the main Church of St Peter Claver with confession and Eucharistic Adoration.

The doors of St Peter Church Kudat were also opened for confession and adoration before the Blessed Sacrament during the time slots of 8:00 am-12:00 noon, 3:00 pm-5:00 pm and 8:00 pm-10:00 pm.

Sandakan Diocese organised a round-the clock experience, beginning with Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral at 6:00 pm on Mar 4, and concluding with benediction followed by Sunset Mass the next day at 5:45 pm.  The emphasis was on reconciliation, Adoration, Stations of the Cross, silent and vocal prayers.

The initiative has been well participated, both in the local context and in the universal Church, and concluding from this participation, “the Jubilee is being intensely lived in all the world and in every local Church, where this time of grace is being organised as a genuine form of renewal for the Church and as a particular moment of the new evangelisation.” (Press Office, Vatican Press Office, Jan 29)

“The Jubilee of Mercy is intended to touch the hearts and the minds of people in order to assist them in coming to understand the ways in which God’s great love manifests itself in their daily lives. It is a time during which to assess our lives of faith and to understand how we are capable of conversion and renewal, both of which come from recognising the importance of remaining focused upon what is essential.

“The Jubilee continues to follow its course and in accord with the desires of Pope Francis.  It will be an important occasion ‘to live out in our daily lives the mercy which the Father constantly extends to all of us.’” (Press conference, VPO, Jan 29)

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