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 Kenneth C. Brabazon, Pastor of Saint Isidore Parish in Quakertown (Bucks County).
Q: In what ways do you plan to integrate this special aspect of your priesthood into your daily activities and ministries?
I am most grateful to our Holy Father for entrusting to me this extraordinary ministry of mercy!
On the day I was ordained a priest, just as all priests do, I made a number of commitments regarding my ministry. I resolved to celebrate faithfully and reverently the mysteries of Christ, especially the sacrifice of the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation, for the glory of God and the sanctification of the Christian people. I resolved to implore God’s mercy upon the people entrusted to my pastoral care by observing the command to pray without ceasing. More to it, I resolved to be united more closely every day to Christ the High Priest, who offered Himself for us to the Father as a pure sacrifice, and with Him to consecrate myself to God for the salvation of all.
As a Missionary of Mercy, the Holy Father is asking me and my brother missionaries to renew and deepen our commitment to these resolutions with a specific focus—to be truly generous with regard to preaching about and extending God’s mercy to all. For my part in embracing this unique call to priestly renewal and generosity of ministry, I’ve begun the process of adapting my schedule and expanding opportunities for encountering God’s mercy in my parish. At Saint Isidore, I now offer three scheduled opportunities each week for the Sacrament of Penance—on Tuesday evenings, Saturday mornings and Saturday afternoons. We have been expanding our schedule of Solemn Exposition of Most Blessed Sacrament, and will soon be adding a Solemn Holy Hour on Friday afternoons during the 3:00 p.m. Hour of Mercy, praying together the Divine Mercy Chaplet with similar devotions. Additionally, we are planning to offer regular Votive Masses at the parish in honor of God’s mercy.
Q: How to do you plan to carry out this work beyond your current assignment?
That’s a big question. I certainly hope to have many more years of stability within my current primary pastoral assignment, as Pastor of Saint Isidore Parish in Quakertown. However, as a Missionary of Mercy, I recognize that the Holy Father is asking me, together with my brother missionaries, to spread the message and ministry of God’s Mercy beyond the typical boundaries of any parish or the boundaries of any one local See. The Holy Father has given us a universal faculty to exercise this unique ministry of mercy anywhere and everywhere throughout the world. That said, there are countless opportunities here, within our own region, for the Lord to pour forth His most generous mercy through this ministry. To that end, I hope to be able to assist more generously with seasonal penance services; with preaching Holy Hours, parish missions, and retreats; and with hearing confessions at local parishes, schools, shrines, and archdiocesan events.
Q: In what ways can lay individuals live out the message of mercy in their everyday lives?
In Saint Luke’s Gospel, Jesus commands us all to “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:36) That command is indeed for all the faithful. All of us are called to both experience God’s mercy and share His mercy with others. We do that primarily, and perhaps most effectively, when we grow in the virtuous exercise of the true charity of Christian love. It is this Christ-like selfless love that motivates us to actively and intentionally work to secure what is good for others, both in material ways (for this life) and in spiritual ways (looking toward eternal life). This sharing of God’s mercy, through virtuous love, is how we all (laity, religious, and clergy) together build up God’s kingdom here on Earth as, even now, we long for His kingdom in Heaven. God has loved us, so we must love others!
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?
I would echo our Risen Lord’s words to the holy women gathered at his empty tomb, “Do not be afraid!” (Matthew 28:10) Jesus laid down His life that we might live, no longer to be held down by the bonds of sin and death. We need only turn to Him, trusting in Him, trusting in His infinite goodness and merciful love. The time to return to confession is just as soon as one’s conscience is nudged by the power of the Holy Spirit. One must not delay. There is never a wrong time. So, what if one has “been away” for a while? It doesn’t matter. Note well, it is none other than the evil-one who tries to convince us that our sins and our weaknesses are somehow more powerful than God’s goodness and mercy. The powers of darkness want for us to believe that our failures are greater than God’s strength. Nothing could be further from the truth! God’s mercy is without limit. As often as we fall, He longs to lift us up. As often as we turn back, He welcomes us. As often as we repent, He forgives. So, believe Him when He says, “Do not be afraid!”
Q: What is your ultimate hope for your mission as an ambassador of mercy?
My hope, with the help of God’s grace, is that I will be found to be faithful to the Holy Father’s intentions for the Missionaries of Mercy. Namely, I hope to be “a sign of the Church’s maternal solicitude for the People of God, enabling them to enter the profound richness of this mystery so fundamental to the faith.” I hope to be “a living sign of the Father’s readiness to welcome those in search of his pardon … [and become a] facilitator of a truly human encounter, a source of liberation, rich with responsibility for overcoming obstacles and taking up the new life of Baptism again.” I hope to be a “persuasive preacher of mercy … [and] herald of joy and forgiveness. (Misericordiae Vultus 18)
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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