The Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, called for by Pope Francis, will conclude on Nov. 20, at which time all designated Holy Doors around the world will be closed. Before then, Mat-Su Valley Catholics aim to ride what has been coined “The Mercy Bus” to take one last opportunity to celebrate the Year of Mercy by passing through the designated Holy Door at Our Lady of the Lake Church in Big Lake and then visiting all Mat-Su parishes and missions throughout the final week.
The Year of Mercy began last December when Pope Francis opened the Holy Doors of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Anchorage Archbishop Roger Schwietz, along with bishops across the world acted likewise, designating and opening Holy Doors in their respective dioceses.
In Anchorage, Archbishop Schwietz has made this opportunity available at Holy Family Cathedral and Our Lady of Guadalupe Co-Cathedral. To assist parishioners living far from the Anchorage cathedrals, he also designated a Holy Door at Our Lady of the Lake Church in Big Lake.
Over the course of the year, Catholics have entered through designated doors to seek God’s mercy, and to become more merciful. When individuals enter a church through an established Holy Door, they may receive a plenary indulgence, provided they fulfill the ordinary requirements of receiving sacramental confession, praying for the Holy Father’s intentions, receiving the Eucharist and being detached from all sin.
In the upcoming Mercy Bus pilgrimage Mat-Su Catholics will make nightly stops in different area parishes.
“We don’t want the Jubilee of Mercy to end unnoticed,” said Father Joseph McGilloway, pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Wasilla. The Mercy Bus will travel to one or two parishes each night to “celebrate the gift of God’s mercy across the Valley.”
The pilgrimage starts Nov. 13 at Sacred Heart Church in Wasilla. From there the bus will travel to Big Lake for the Sunday Mass at 10 a.m. During that liturgy, a candle will be lit at the Holy Door. The flame will travel to different Mat-Su churches each day over the following week. The flame will be left at evening prayer in each parish to burn until the final day of the Year of Mercy.
The bus pilgrimage aims to inspire Valley Catholics to journey together and to meet one another in their home parishes.
Sacred Heart will be the starting point for the bus each day. If it is filled to capacity, participants are free to follow in a convoy. A key feature of the evening is the hospitality after evening prayer.
“We want to invite Catholics who have left the church to come back and rejoin their local Catholic community,” Father McGilloway explained.
The week ends with a 3 p.m. Mass at Our Lady of the Lake to close the Holy Door.
Separate closing liturgies will take place at Holy Family and Our Lady of Guadalupe on Nov. 20.
Mercy Bus Tour
- Nov. 13 – Our Lady of the Lake in Big Lake, 10 a.m.
- Nov. 15 – St. Philip Benizi in Trapper Creek, 6 p.m.
- Nov. 15 – St. Bernard in Talkeetna, 7 p.m.
- Nov 16 – St. Michael in Palmer, 7 p.m.
- Nov. 17 – Sacred Heart in Wasilla, 7 p.m.
- Nov. 18 – St. Christopher in Willow, 7 p.m.
- Nov. 20 – Our Lady of the Lake in Big Lake, 3 p.m. (Closing the Holy Door)
For more information, including bus departure times, contact Sacred Heart Church at 376-5087.