SEDONA — Staying open through a 5 p.m. Mass Nov. 13, the Holy Doors at the Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona were probably among the last to close in the continental United States. Throughout the day, holy doors in dioceses across the globe were closed, including in Sedona and at Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral.
“Under the theme of the Mercy of the Father, we have gathered as a people throughout the world reflecting on God’s love and His forgiveness,” said Fr. Kieran Kleczewski in his homily at the Sedona Mass. “We remember how in our own lives, even when we had turned our backs on God, He continued to call us, continued to nurture us until we returned to give thanks and praise.”
Fr. Kleczewski, pastor of St. John Vianney Parish in Sedona and director of the diocese’s Office of Worship, reflected on the history of Jubilee years in Jewish and Catholic tradition as a time to experience God’s grace and presence.
“In the Gospel today, Jesus is confronted by those in His own day who were seeking some signs of the final times [when] the Messiah would come to lead the armies of Israel to victory over their enemies,” said Fr. Kleczewski. “Of course, the irony … is that He who was the fulfillment of all of God’s promises was standing in front of them, and yet they failed to recognize Him and understand the words that He speaks — the merciful presence of God.”
In a Mass closing the holy doors at Ss. Simon and Jude that morning, cathedral rector Fr. John Lankeit reflected on the gifts of mercy throughout the year.
“Dearly beloved, we have reached the end of the Jubilee Year. It’s been an extraordinary time of grace and mercy,” he said. “Once more before approaching these sacred mysteries, let us invoke the soothing balm of His mercy, acknowledging that we are sinners and forgiving one another from the bottom of our hearts.”
Alicia Ayala came from Immaculate Conception in Cottonwood to attend the Mass in Sedona and give thanks to God.
“All this year I asked for mercy for family and neighbors,” she said. “God answered prayers and I need to give a little bit and say thank you for a wonderful year.”
Immaculate Conception pastor and dean of the North Deanery Fr. David Kelash concelebrated the Mass and led a busload of his parishioners to Sedona.
“The Year of Mercy doesn’t end for me. Mercy is ever-enduring,” reflected Jeff Beech, a volunteer catechist at Immaculate Conception.
St. John Vianney parishioner Lorraine Neuland marveled at the fact that approximately 3 million pilgrims had walked through the holy doors in Sedona — which is a popular tourist destination — during the year.
“Of all the places in Arizona, and we had it here,” she said. “I’m looking for opportunities all the time to practice mercy.”
In concluding his homily, Fr. Kleczewski prayed that even though the Jubilee year was coming to an end, that mercy would continue to fill our lives.
“Let us ask God for the graces He has poured out in a special way this year continue to wash over us, that His grace and love surround us all, that our hearts may still be able to recognize His presence in our midst, in our lives, in the lives of our families,” he said, “because for all those who need mercy, for all those who struggle in this life, God’s mercy and grace is always there to redeem us and to lift us up.”
The Catholic Sun correspondent Lindsay Wantland contributed to this article.