Door of Mercy closes at Schoenstatt Heights, but shrine remains open Print E-mail
Around the Diocese
Written by Sr. M. Catherine Ditto, For the Catholic Herald   
Thursday, Nov. 24, 2016 -- 12:00 AM

MADISON -- Sunday, Nov. 13, dawned warm and clear -- a perfect day to welcome over 130 pilgrims who came to celebrate the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy at the Schoenstatt Heights Retreat Center.

The retreat center is located on Madison’s east side overlooking the State Capitol. As the time approached for Mass in the Family Room, pilgrims were streaming in to take advantage of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

The gathering song, the official “Hymn for the Holy Year of Mercy,” by Paul Inwood and Eugenio Costa, set a festive and prayerful atmosphere that permeated the entire celebration.

Fr. Francisco Rojas of the Schoenstatt Fathers was the main celebrant. His homily related three stories of mercy from the past year: a young mother who experienced deep compassion for the suffering of another, a five-year-old girl who made sacrifices to ease the suffering of a parishioner, and his own experience of mercy connected with his travels.

Father Rojas encouraged all present to reflect on their own experiences of mercy.

Prayers of thanksgiving

After Mass, all present processed to the Founder Shrine, where they were led in prayers of thanksgiving, first for Pope Francis, who called this Extraordinary Jubilee Year into existence. We then gave thanks for the gifts of mercy we have experienced despite our own misery and sins.

We rejoiced in the opportunity to live out the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy more intensively. Finally, we offered thanksgiving for the gift that this Schoenstatt Shrine was chosen as a Door of Mercy for the Diocese of Madison.

For the last time during the Jubilee Year, we prayed the prayers for a plenary indulgence. Father Rojas interceded God’s blessing upon all present, and we renewed our covenant of love (Marian consecration) with the Blessed Mother, our Queen of Mercy.

Once everyone had exited the shrine, the door was solemnly closed. Everyone present erupted in a spontaneous applause. A solemn “Magnificat” was sung as the signs for the Door of Mercy were removed.

Highlights of Jubilee Year

A three-fold presentation followed in the Family Room with highlights of the Jubilee Year of Mercy at Schoenstatt Heights, including the opening celebration on December 13, 2015; the coronation of Mary as Queen of Mercy on June 26, 2016; and the annual Ice Cream Social on the first Sunday in August.

Marie Ethan, of Schoenstatt’s Mothers’ League, shared her “Moms for Mercy” initiative. Each month she and a group of mothers with young children planned an activity to practice a Spiritual or Corporal Work of Mercy with their children. These included praying for the living and the dead, contributing to food pantries, and cleaning up an old cemetery.

The Schoenstatt Family in Madison explained the Penny Power Project initiative. Coin banks made from soup cans were filled with pennies and returned to the Schoenstatt Shrine to support a nutritional center for children in a poverty-stricken area of the Dominican Republic. A PowerPoint showed scenes of the good works which these pennies support.

The day ended with a meal catered by the Catholic Multicultural Center in Madison.

Shrine remains open

Looking back, one may have some melancholy that such a grace-filled year came to a close, but at the same time we are so grateful for the opportunity which this Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy offered to our Schoenstatt Family and the Diocese of Madison. Although the Jubilee Door of Mercy is officially closed, the door of our Founder Shrine remains open to pilgrims year-round. We hope many of the pilgrims who visited will continue to find a home and place of grace here.

At its dedication, Bishop William P. O’Connor of Madison expressed his hope that our Founder Shrine would become a “spiritual powerhouse for the diocese.” This past year this was certainly true, and we hope it continues into the future.

For more information about the Schoenstatt Heights Retreat Center or the Founder Shrine, contact:

Sr. M. Catherine Ditto

5901 Cottage Grove Rd.

Madison, WI 53718


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