Although it make look like no lights are on there certainly was someone home at Hamilton’s Cathedral Basilica of Christ the King on March 28 for 24 hours straight. Photo by Erik Canaria.

24 Hours of Mercy a blessing for Hamilton

  • April 3, 2014

Anne Lamanes’ Lenten season got just a little more special this year.

In the final days of March, Lamanes and her husband made their way inside Hamilton’s Cathedral Basilica of Christ the King to take part in the 24 Hours of Mercy.

“It was just so calming and so peaceful,” said Lamanes, 49. “It was just a blessing at that point in our day.”

The idea to host the 24 Hours of Mercy, during which time the cathedral remained opened for two full rotations of the clock, came from the Vatican.

“We received a request from the Pontifical Council of (Promoting) the New Evangelization — all of the bishops and archbishops in Canada received the request — that we would set aside one church in each diocese to provide the opportunity for the sacrament of Penance or Confession for a 24-hour period beginning on March 28,” said Msgr. Murray Kroetsch, a member of the diocese’s episcopal board. “Every time we celebrate the sacrament of Penance or Confession it is a time for us to deepen and renew our relationship with Jesus Christ. So it fits in very well with the whole program for the new evangelization.”

It required about a dozen priests, working in shifts, to ensure anyone who entered would have a priest available to hear their confession.

Lamanes arrived just after midnight and, to her surprise, there were about 15 people already shuffling about inside the cathedral. There they had the opportunity to participate in eucharistic adoration as well as Confession. The Lamanes came for personal prayer time.

The diverse demographic of the group that trickled in and out of the cathedral while Lamanes visited for about 45 minutes caught her slightly off guard, but in a good way.

“There were both young and old people there,” she said. “That was nice to see.”

Hamilton Bishop Douglas Crosby said that “several hundred” visited the cathedral during the 24-hour period.

“I am very pleased that so many people came to our Cathedral Basilica from Hamilton and the surrounding area to pray in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament and took the opportunity to celebrate the sacrament of Reconciliation,” said Crosby. “The entire experience was one of blessing for our diocese.”

Leading by example, Pope Francis stepped up to the challenge himself, said Kroetsch.

The Pope led a penance celebration, eucharistic adoration and hearing confessions at St. Peter’s Basilica.

This is the kind of personal touch the current Pope brings to the papacy which is rejuvenating the Church, said Lamanes.

“I love the idea of Pope Francis, the way he is bringing everyone together and being such an easy-going man that people just come to him,” she said. “We are getting more (positive) attention than we ever did before.”

Those who visited the cathedral in Hamilton were able to attend the Stations of the Cross at 7 p.m. on March 28 and celebrate Mass at 8:30 a.m. on March 29, events that were scheduled before the call for the 24 Hours of Mercy wentout.

And that call isn’t just for this year.

“They (the Pontifical Council) would like to make this an annual part of the Lenten experience,” said Kroetsch. “It certainly fits in with the Lenten season when we are asked to do a little bit extra to intensify our efforts to be holy.”

Next year the diocese will discuss expanding the service to more than one church, something that couldn’t be done with the short notice this year, Kroetsch said.

And while Lamanes understands that security poses a challenge when keeping a church’s doors open for 24 hours, she hopes to see 24 Hours of Mercy happen again next year.

“I do hope that they do it again next year because it was wonderful.”

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