On December 8, 2015 (Solemnity of Immaculate Conception), The Supreme Pontiff, Pope Francis officially inaugurated the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy (Iubilaeum Extraordinarium Misericordiae) by opening the Holy Door at St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome.
In the Bull of Indiction, Misericordiae Vultus, he said, At times we are called to gaze even more attentively on mercy so that we may become a more effective sign of the Father’s action in our lives. For this reason, I have proclaimed an Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy as a special time for the Church, a time when the witness of believers might grow stronger and more effective. This Holy Year according to him spans from December 8, 2015 to November 20, 2016.
He then gave the authority for all the Bishops to do same in their various Cathedrals and to also designate different Parishes and Shrines within their Dioceses for the same function. Sequel to this, the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Enugu, Most Rev. Callistus Chukwuma Onaga, through the request of the seminary authority included Bigard Chapel as one of the places where this dooris to be opened in the Diocese of Enugu for pilgrims.
He also delegated the Rector, Bigard Memorial Seminary, Very Rev. Fr. Dr. Albert Ikpenwa to represent him as the Principal celebrant during this epoch making event. The Eucharistic celebration which began with the Rites of the opening of the Jubilee door outside the Bigard Main Chapel was attended by Bigard formators, Seminarians, Bigard lay workers and visitors.
In the homily, Rev. Fr. Dr. Anthony Eze synthesized the readings and the day’s event. According to him, the Church through the readings uses the image of marriage to describe the relationship between God and His people. Christat the wedding feast at Cana manifests the saving power of God by turning water into wine. The amount of wine shows the generosity of God’s grace.
Thus we are called by the Pope during this Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy to partake of the superabundance of God’s mercy towards His peopleand to extend this mercy to others especially in our world characterized by marginalization and grudges, etc. He gave a brief history and significance of “Holy doors” in the Church as well as the requirement for the reception of indulgence, stating the implication of passing through the Holy Door.
The requirements for obtaining indulgence include;
1. A true repentance and reception of sacramental absolution in the Sacrament of Penance at least 20 days before or after the indulgence opportunity.
2. Reception of Holy Communionat least 20 days before or after the indulgence opportunity, while reflecting on the nature of mercy.
3. Praying for the Pope and his intentions (one Creed, one Our Father and one Hail Mary) on the same day as the prescribed work.
4. The recitation of a profession of faith on the same day as the prescribed work, done separately from a regular recitation of the Creed at Mass.
5. Total detachment from any inclination to sin, even venial sin.
After the post communion prayer was the vote of thanks by Rev. Fr. Dr. Clement Obasi followed by the final blessing and dismissal.