KOTA KINABALU – The closing of the Year of Mercy (YOM) in the Kota Kinabalu Archdiocese drew record crowds on 20 Nov 2016 at the Sacred Heart Cathedral here.
Church personnel estimated the crowd to be around 9,000 based on the consecrated hosts distributed during holy Communion.
The people (some came as early as 1:00 pm) gathered at the Sacred Heart Parish Centre for the screening of a videoclip on the YOM in the past year at 4:oo pm. Then they went in procession led by Archbishop John Wong and over 30 concelebrants to enter the Holy Door before it was closed. It took the people almost two hours to enter the Holy Door for the last time before its closing.
In his homily, the prelate highlighted the fact that Nov 20 marked three important occasions in the archdiocese: (1) the solemnity of Christ the King; (2) the 35th dedication anniversary of the cathedral; and (3) the closing of the Year of Mercy in union with the Universal Church.
He said: ” Today may mark the end of the Jubilee of Mercy, but the Good News is, the Father’s heart of mercy remains forever.”
This theme was similar to what Pope Francis said in his homily at the jubilee closure: “Because even if the Holy Door closes, the true door of mercy which is the heart of Christ always remains open wide for us. From the lacerated side of the Risen One until the very end of time flow mercy, consolation and hope.”
Abp Wong closed the Door of Mercy after post-Communion prayer. It will reopen in the ordinary Jubilee Year of 2025.
The Holy Doors in Kudat and Limbahau were closed Nov 19 while that of Ranau was closed on Nov 13 simultaneously with other churches and basilicas around the world, including in Rome.
Pope Francis’ Apostolic Letter Misericordia et misera (Mercy with Misery), for the conclusion of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, Dec. 8, 2015 – Nov. 20, 2016 was published and presented by the Vatican the next day Nov 21. It provides a special grace to all priests the faculty to forgive those who committed abortions: “I henceforth grant to all priests, in virtue of their ministry, the faculty to absolve those who have committed the sin of procured abortion.” (MM # 12).