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 Christopher B. Rogers, Pastor of Saint Patrick Parish in Kennett Square (Chester County). Read our additional profiles on the new Missionaries of Mercy here.
Q: In what ways do you plan to integrate this special aspect of your priesthood into your daily activities and ministries?
It may seem odd but each day, when I wake up, I take joy in the Book of Lamentations. Specifically, in Lamentations 3:22-23 which reads:
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
This verse proclaims great healing and Truth which I need to be reminded of each day. As a priest, I have a duty to live and make them known each day. Namely, God is Faithful and His Mercies NEVER come to an end. In fact, they are ever new!
As a begin this new work, I intend on daily living this Truth with greater zeal.
Q: How to do you plan to carry out this work beyond your current assignment?
Currently, I have three assignments. I serve as Pastor at Saint Patrick Parish in Kennett Square, Chaplain of the Courage/Encourage Apostolates, and as a Spiritual Director.
As a pastor, I have already added an additional weekly Confession Time at my parish. As Chaplain of our Courage/Encourage Apostolates in the Archdiocese, I hope to extend the visibility of this good work which is available locally in the Church. There is much misunderstanding both within and outside of the Church today regarding sexuality and the human person. The good work of Courage and Encourage affirms the dignity of the human person by assisting men, women and family to live mercy.
Q: In what ways can lay individuals live out the message of mercy in their everyday lives?
Blessed James Alberione, the Founder of the Daughters of Saint Paul, said, “God Lives in a Grateful Heart.” The best way to live Mercy is to receive it and be always grateful for it. Cultivate Gratitude in all things. The happiest, most generous and merciful people in the world are those who are sincerely grateful. And the most grateful are those who know that God has loved them.
Q: The Sacrament of Reconciliation communicates God’s infinite mercy to us. What would you say to those who have been away from confession and may be looking to make it a regular part of their faith journey again?
1) Pay attention to your desire.
2) Ask the Holy Spirit to lead to you to a priest whom you trust
3) Share with the priest your desire for God.
It takes time for Confession to become a “regular” part of one’s faith journey. It’s not magic, but many see Confession as magic, perhaps simply a car wash for sin. Many others don’t know how to go to Confession and still others have had bad experiences with the Sacrament because of a confessor. Confession is the sacred place where God meets us in a direct and personal way; in this encounter, not only is sin absolved but tremendous grace is received as God pours out His Love for the one before Him. This Love of God is what we were made for and without it there is no life.
Q: What is your ultimate hope for your mission as an ambassador of mercy?
I want people to know that Mercy is more than an eraser of Sin; it’s more than a “pass” from God; it’s more than just going to Confession.
Mercy is the very breath and life of God in us and for us. It’s the free yet costly Gift of Jesus Crucified and Risen for us. And just as He did for the sinful, shame-filled, and frightened Apostles on Easter Night, Jesus comes for each of us and calls us to TRUST MERCY.
We have heard this call in our modern day thru Saints Faustina and John Paul II, but all saints have proclaimed God’s Mercy throughout the ages.
Saint Augustine wrote, “Lord, you were with me, but I was not with you.” How do we get with God? Through Mercy. When we trust God’s Mercy and avail to Him all that is within us, all that we have done, all that we have failed to do… we realize His Love, then we are made One with Him.
I hope that my work as a Missionary of Mercy advances that Unity of All in Christ.
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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