mercy pilgrimageAs the bus pulled up in front of Saint Peter’s Church in Portland, two Sisters of Mercy led a contingent from Saint Joseph’s College to mark the end of a year-long celebration of the Jubilee Year of Mercy. In doing so, they tapped into their historic roots in the Diocese of Portland.

Like pilgrims worldwide, the Sisters of were journeying to pass through a Holy Door, the southernmost Holy Door in the Diocese at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.  Led by Sister Mary George O’Toole, RSM and Sister Sylvia Comer, RSM, President Dlugos, students and staff from the college walked from Saint Peter’s to the Cathedral. Reverend Kyle Douston ceremonially greeted them, led the Prayer of Pope Francis for the Jubilee, and invited each pilgrim to walk – one by one, as is custom – through the Holy Door.

During the tour of the Cathedral that followed, Sister Mary George pointed to a portrait of Bishop David Bacon, the first bishop of the Diocese of Portland who initiated the plans to build the cathedral in 1855.  “He brought the Sisters of Mercy to Maine with him, he brought us to work with the Wabanaki people.”

As the tour concluded in the chapel, three sisters stepped up to the podium and spoke of their ongoing commitment to “making mercy real” and devoting themselves to working with the poor – from Mercy Hospital in Portland to Hispanic immigrant peoples throughout Maine to Haiti – the Sisters urged each pilgrim to consider their own journey and how to carry on the work Catherine McAuley began nearly two centuries ago in 1827.