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 Peter J. DiMaria, Pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Bridgeport (Montgomery 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?
As a seminarian I was very inspired to learn how Saint John Bosco, Saint John Vianney, and Saint Padre Pio spent a significant amount of their time administering the sacrament of Penance. These saints knew that there would be no growth in their people’s sanctity unless they availed themselves of the sacramental grace of forgiveness. Therefore, their confessional ministry figured prominently in their lives.
Realizing the wisdom of these saintly priests, I have always tried to make myself available to anyone who has asked for confession. Additionally, as a pastor, I offer scheduled confessions on a few occasions during the week realizing that Saturday afternoon doesn’t work for everyone’s schedule. As a Missionary of Mercy I will continue to make myself available to those who seek sacramental reconciliation with the Lord.
Q: How to do you plan to carry out this work beyond your current assignment?
Whenever my parochial responsibilities allow and where there is a need, I will happily make myself available for this special ministry.
Q: In what ways can lay individuals live out the message of mercy in their everyday lives?
Foundational to authentic Gospel living is the willingness on the part of the disciples of Christ to extend forgiveness to all who harm us. Acknowledging how often we have been forgiven by God and expressing gratitude for that forgiveness goes a long way in helping the ordinary believer live out the mercy of God in their own interactions with other people.
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?
When I was in the seminary many years ago I remember Fr. Denis Carbonaro often quoting Saint Teresa of Avila who said, “The only thing that you have to do to begin again with God is to begin again.” If someone has been away from confession for a long time, I would try to encourage them to heed the advice of Saint Teresa and just begin again!
Q: What is your ultimate hope for your mission as an ambassador of mercy?
My ultimate hope is that the Lord in His goodness will allow me to be an effective instrument of His grace, peace and mercy. When the Lord calls me from this life my ultimate hope is to hear Him address these words to me, “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord.”
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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