PROVIDENCE — People with disabilities and their families, caretakers and catechists, including those involved with the diocesan Special Religious Education (SPRED) program, will partake in a special pilgrimage to the Holy Door at the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul on Wednesday, September 28. The evening will include a prayer service and blessing over those with disabilities and fulfill an invitation extended by Bishop Thomas J. Tobin earlier in the year.
“I hope that at some point during the jubilee year you will have the opportunity to make a pilgrimage to the cathedral to pass through our Holy Door and receive the graces and indulgences of that moment,” Bishop Tobin wrote in a letter addressed to the diocesan SPRED community in January. “And I hope, too, that during the jubilee you will ‘grow ever more convinced of God’s mercy’ and that the grace of God will complement all the wonderful work you do every day.”
Irma Rodriguez, director of the Apostolate for People with Disabilities and diocesan SPRED coordinator, said the event will provide an opportunity for those with disabilities to participate fully in the life of the diocesan Church.
“I’m really excited because our friends with disabilities, how many of them have been to the Holy Door? How many of them have even been to the cathedral?” she said. “I think it’s a special opportunity for people to see how great God is and how much he does for all of us.”
The pilgrimage will mark the Jubilee Year of Mercy, which Pope Francis has set aside as a time to celebrate God’s love and reach out to all people in a spirit of mercy and compassion. From the start of his papacy, the pope has been known to reach out in a particular way to those with disabilities as he strives to make the Church a welcoming place for all who seek out the Lord.
“Our pope is going to be known as the pope of mercy and he wanted to bring all the people,” said Rodriguez.
Though families and individuals are welcome to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Door at any time during the jubilee year, the event will provide an opportunity for those with disabilities to join together in prayer with Bishop Tobin and other Catholics from around the state. Rodriguez also hopes that catechists and caretakers will use the pilgrimage as a time to refresh and learn about their faith.
“I do think it’s really important that they come to the cathedral and meet their bishop and receive a blessing from their bishop,” said Rodriguez. “It could be healing in so many ways. So they know they’re part of the big Church.”
The event is open to all who wish to participate, including families, catechists, caretakers and the general public. Prayer service and procession will begin at 5:30 p.m.