In this Jubilee Year of Mercy, it’s important to recall and reflect upon the examples of those who were bold witnesses of mercy before our time.
That’s precisely what the “Witnesses of Mercy in the Americas” symposium aims to do. Organized in conjunction with the Archdiocese of Denver and the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, the Sept. 24 symposium will take place in Rome, Italy and will explore the lives of four figures who exemplified mercy in their lives: Father Eusebio Kino, Father Antonio Margil de Jesús, Father Michael McGivney and Denver’s own Julia Greeley.
“The aim of the symposium is to make people more familiar with these beautiful, really bold witnesses of mercy and to help people understand that Jesus gave us that same commission — to carry the Gospel to modern frontiers of society,” said Dave Uebbing, chancellor for the Archdiocese of Denver. Uebbing has been chiefly responsible for organizing the symposium over the past year.
Among those speaking about these four witnesses of mercy will be Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila, Knights of Columbus Supreme Knight Carl Anderson, and Dr. Jonathan Reyes, Executive Director of the Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. A closing Mass will also be celebrated by His Eminence Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops and President of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America.
The four witnesses are connected in the ways that each of them left their own home countries to come to serve poor and marginalized peoples in America. Father Kino was a cartographer and explorer who brought the Gospel to the Pima Indians in southern Arizona. Father Margil de Jesús is known as the “apostle of Texas” for bringing Catholicism to Texas in a substantial way. Father McGivney served Irish-Catholic immigrants and founded the Knights of Columbus. Greeley was a former slave who converted to Catholicism and came to Denver to serve the poor.
“They’re local, very accessible and applicable examples of how to live out the call to be a missionary and do so in a way that is merciful,” Uebbing said.
It was also intentional on the part of Uebbing and the Pontifical Commission for Latin America that the four witnesses chosen are relatively unknown.
“[We] wanted to find people that didn’t have the limelight on them and weren’t well known,” he said. “Often, people can be inspired by these people they didn’t know about.”