By Fr. Santo Arrigo, C.Ss.R.
With the Year of Mercy well underway, 8 churches in the Archdiocese of Toronto have been asked to serve as pilgrimage sites by establishing a Holy Door for this year. St. Patrick’s Shrine Church was approached by Cardinal Collins in October. After discussing the proposal with a number of parishioners who are carpenters, work began to design and establish our Holy Door which was opened on Sunday, December 13th. Over the month of November and into December, our parishioners were hard at work to create the door, frame and to burn the design into the door using wood burning tools that are like permanent markers that need to pass over the wood slowly and evenly to create an even burn in the wood. Each night of the week, various families who are involved in different ministries worked around the clock to create the door.
The Blessing and Opening of the Door on December 13th was a tremendous occasion. We welcomed over 1200 people to the church for the celebration. The Redemptorist Novices served the liturgy which was presided over by Fr. Santo Arrigo C.Ss.R., Pastor of St. Patrick’s. The Liturgy began with prayer, Gospel reading, and the reading of an excerpt of the Papal Bull proclaiming this Year of Mercy. Then the parishioners joined in the procession from the front of the church, through the side door to the front, then the Liturgical Procession stopped at the Holy Door for the prayer of blessing. Over 800 people joined the procession through the door at the beginning of the liturgy. Though it made for a long moment of prayer, it was quite a sight to see so many of the faithful from all over the city join in this opportunity to begin this special year of grace.
Our Door was designed based on the figure of Jesus that is very familiar to Redemptorists as the figure of Jesus from the mural of St. Alphonsus and the Redeemer. On the back of the door, we see Our Mother of Perpetual Help, the refrain from the Prayers of the Faithful for the Wednesday Novena, and the Redemptorist Logo and Motto, “Copiosa Apud Eum Redemptio”, “In Him there is Plentiful Redemption”. The Year of Mercy, and the Holy Door at St. Patrick’s really speaks to the heart of our Redemptorist Mission and Charism. It is an opportunity for us, especially in this year of the 150th Anniversary of our Mission to “Make Mary Known” under the title of Perpetual Help, when we celebrate who we are as agents of Mercy in the Church, and how our charism speaks to this opportunity for the faithful to gather and be embraced by the love of the Redeemer, through Mary our Mother.
We have welcomed many people in the last few weeks who have come to spend time in prayer, including Cardinal Collins, who came to visit the parish and spend some time in prayer on Christmas Eve day. We continue to receive inquiries about visits and pilgrimage groups both to the Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help and for the Holy Door.