The Archdiocese of Philadelphia rejoices to have 11 of her own priests appointed to be Archdiocesan Missionaries of Mercy. These priests are available to help facilitate pastoral initiatives that focus on conversion and divine mercy, with a particular attention given to the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Missionaries of Mercy are priests – diocesan or religious – who have been commissioned by the Holy Father to give particular emphasis to the duty shared by all priests to “hear confessions and preach on behalf of and promote the Sacrament of Reconciliation.” They are to be an intentional, visible expression of the mercy of God, which is at the heart of the priesthood and all of Catholic life. In addition, Missionaries of Mercy have the authority, granted by the Holy Father, to pardon these sins reserved to the Holy See:
- Profaning the Eucharistic species by taking them away or keeping them for a sacrilegious purpose;
- Use of physical force against the Roman Pontiff;
- Absolution of an accomplice in a sin against the Sixth Commandment of the Decalogue;
- A direct violation against the sacramental seal by a confessor.
- The recording by means of a technical device of what the priest or the penitent says in a Sacramental Confession (whether real or simulated), or the divulgation of such a recording through the means of social communication.
CatholicPhilly presents the following interview with Reverend Monsignor Francis J. Depman, Pastor of Saint Rocco Parish in Avondale (Chester County). Read our additional profiles on the new Missionaries of Mercy here.
In my 34 years serving the Spanish speaking community of Southern Chester County, first as Parochial Vicar of Assumption BVM Parish, Chaplain of Misión Santa María, Madre de Dios and now as Pastor of Saint Rocco Parish, I have come to realize the importance of the Sacrament of Reconciliation in the life and growth of our faith community.
When I first came to Southern Chester County, because of the lack of facilities and only one Mass for the Spanish speaking community, confession was restricted to a couple of minutes before the start of Mass.
Very few people received communion as a result. As our access to different parish facilities grew and eventually having our own parish church the ability to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation increased. Through the influence of the Sisters, Servants of the Lord and the Virgen of Matara and the arrival of Father Andres Garcia Arambula, for the last 18 years we have been able to offer the Sacrament of Reconciliation to all those who seek its grace. The number of people receiving the Sacrament extends from the beginning of Mass until long after Mass has ended.
The number of people receiving the Eucharist and attending Mass each Sunday and each day has greatly increased. There is not a Sunday that passes where I do not give thanks to God for giving me the strength to be present there as a minister for Reconciliation with the Lord, bring the mercy, forgiveness and healing of Jesus Christ to someone truly in need of the Lord´s loving care.
My experience has truly helped me to realize in my own personal life and ministry the importance of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and God´s loving mercy in our lives. My hope as a Missionary of Mercy called by Pope Francis is to help the children and youth of our parish and within the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, in a world that so often leads us away and alienates us from the love of God, that Jesus is calling us. Calling us to recognize the loving presence of God Our Father. Giving us hope because He is did not come to condemn us but to be people called to God´s loving embrace and through Reconciliation with God, making it a reality in our lives.
To learn more about the Missionaries of Mercy International, please visit http://missionariesofmercyusa.org/. To learn more about the Missionaries of Mercy in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, https://archphila.org/mercy/.
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