Moyross Parish Priest Tony O’Riordan SJ is among a group of priests from around the world chosen by Pope Francis to play a special role in the Holy Year of Mercy which began on 8 December. He has been invited to come to Rome on Monday 8 February to receive the special mandate in person during an Ash Wednesday ceremony in St. Peter’s Basilica on 10 February.
During the ceremony he will be mandated as a Missionary of Mercy and receive a special mission from Pope Francis to preach and teach about God’s mercy. He was appointed to Moyross in Limerick in 2011 and says his selection is a symbolic affirmation by Pope Francis of the need of the Church to be with and serve the people on the outskirts and the margins.
The initiative of Pope Francis is part of this special or Holy Year proclaimed by the Pope which began on 8 December and it runs until 20 November. Pope Francis had said he would designate ‘Missionaries of Mercy’ to be unique signs of God’s mercy. They have been selected for their ability to preach and practice mercy and to be good confessors. Pope Francis is giving them special authority to pardon sins that carry penalties that only the Holy See can lift.
The appointed missionaries were invited to Rome for a special meeting with the Pope on Tuesday next. He will lead them though the ‘Door of Mercy’ before sitting down to talk with them and brief them on their role and what he wants them to do. They are to receive their papal mandate the next day during a ceremony in St. Peter’s Basilica where Fr O’Riordan will concelebrate Mass with the Pope.
The missionaries come from every continent and every major country, as well as regions where God’s mercy is especially needed. They number over seven hundred in total. Tony O’Riordan is the only priest in Limerick named as a papal missionary.
Commenting on the selection he said, “The ordinary people of Moyross, especially those enduring tragedies and hardship, have taught me a lot about the God that really is. They have helped make me more aware of the challenge facing the Church to catch up with where people are in their faith and lives and where God’s spirit of mercy, love and justice is at work… I like to think that this is similar to the way Pope Francis was taught by the ordinary people in Bunes Aires”
He went on to say that “To be associated with the reforming mission of Pope Francis in this way is something I hope I am prepared for and with God’s help I can do the work. Or more importantly I can allow God work through me and affirm people who often feel the deep side of their struggles and triumphs and their faith is not appreciated in the way we currently preach and teach – or indeed in the way we celebrate our faith and organise as Church. I hope that in this role of Missionary of Mercy, I can be part of God’s plan for strengthening the goodness in others, helping relieve their burdens.With God’s help I trust I can.”