St. Anthony’s parishioner wins Year of Mercy icon

Mike Miller, a parishioner of St. Anthony’s Parish in Sterling, Colo., was randomly chosen as the winner of a high-quality, framed print of the official Year of Mercy icon for the Archdiocese of Denver, originally painted by iconographer Vivian Imbruglia. Archdiocese chancellor David Uebbing personally delivered the icon to Miller’s home in Atwood, Colo., Jan. 10.

Miller was one of over 250 participants who visited all of the Holy Doors in the archdiocese designated for the Jubilee Year of Mercy and submitted a completed postcard with a stamp from each location.

He didn’t make the pilgrimage alone, however.

Miller’s wife, Carol, fellow parishioner Don Wolfe and St. Anthony’s parochial vicar Father Herman Joseph Nsubuga all went on a pilgrimage together to visit each of the Holy Doors in the archdiocese, from the Cathedral Basilica all the way to St. Stephen’s Parish in Glenwood Springs. Miller and his wife have been parishioners at St. Anthony’s for 15 years, and both he and Wolfe are involved in the parish’s prison ministry, which they conduct at Sterling Correctional Facility.

It was purely coincidental that the winner of the icon happened to be from a parish where there was a Holy Door. Miller recalled many pilgrims coming to visit the Holy Door at St. Anthony’s including a few busloads of people. Miller enjoyed having a Holy Door at his own parish.

Mike Miller shows off his Year of Mercy icon with his wife Carol (Carol), Dave Uebbing (right), and Don Wolfe (far right). (Photo by Aaron Lambert)

Mike Miller shows off his Year of Mercy icon with his wife Carol (Carol), Dave Uebbing (right), and Don Wolfe (far right). (Photo by Aaron Lambert)

“It was nice having the door of mercy here,” he said. “We got to the habit where we went through the [Holy Door] every time we went in.”

He was also struck by how many people avoided the Holy Door at first, but then began to go through the door more as the year progressed. He overheard people say they needed the “extra grace.” Throughout the Year of Mercy, he also witnessed people come back to the sacrament of reconciliation.

Though not immediately apparent, Wolfe observed that the Year of Mercy and the Holy Door did have an effect on the parish and its people.

“I think there is change. I don’t know if we always see with God’s eyes what’s going on to help people,” he said. “How those people are drawn…you don’t know how God’s working.”

Overall, it was a very gratifying experience, they said, and they were greeted warmly at each parish they went to.

“We were instant friends. It was like family, we knew them right away,” Wolfe said. “People made you feel right at home.”

COMING UP: Explaining the Holy Doors

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The opening of the Holy Door at the St. Peter’s Basilica is an important part of Holy Years. The tradition was started by Pope Martin V in 1423, when he opened the Holy Door at the Basilica of St. John Lateran to decree the Jubilee year, and it is a tradition that has continued since.

The Holy Door in Rome will be opened by Pope Francis on Dec. 8, marking the beginning of the Jubilee Year of Mercy. When the Holy Door is opened, the Holy Father strikes it three times with a silver hammer, each strike representing a Scriptural “strike” such as Moses striking the rock and the Roman soldier striking Christ in the side with a spear. With these strikes, grace flowed forth, usually in the form of water, and in keeping with the symbology, the striking of the door symbolizes the releases of grace, flowing to the faithful.

Making a pilgrimage to the Holy Door is also a key piece of Jubilee years. It evokes the passage in the Gospel of John when Christ said, “I am the door,” (Jn 10:9). Traditionally, the faithful would make a pilgrimage to Rome to pass through the Holy Door. Passing through the Holy Door is symbolic of leaving this world and entering into God’s presence, and also of the removal of obstacles from clear passage to the Lord. St. John Paul II said that the Holy Door “…evokes the passage from sin to grace which every Christian is called to accomplish,” and during the Extraordinary Jubilee, Catholics are called to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Door to do just this.

Rome is a bit far away for Denver-based Catholics to travel to (not to mention really pricey), but luckily, the Holy Father gave bishops around the world the power to designate Holy Doors in their own diocese for the faithful to make pilgrimages to. Archbishop Aquila has designated five Holy Doors to be opened on Dec. 13 in the Archdiocese of Denver, listed on the below map.

As an incentive to visit the Holy Doors, special postcards will be given at each of the five locations to collect uniquely-designed stamps, with a sixth stamp being offered at the Mercy Chose Me conference on Jan. 23 at Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Northglenn. If you collect them all, you can submit your completed postcard for a chance to win a beautiful Jubilee Year of Mercy icon.

DC_11-28-15.indd1. St. Stephen Catholic Church
1885 Blake Ave.
Glenwood Springs, CO 81601

2. Mother Cabrini Shrine
20189 Cabrini Blvd.
Golden, CO 80401

3. Our Lady of Guadalupe
1209 W. 36th Ave.
Denver, CO 80211

4. Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception
1530 Logan St.
Denver, CO 80203

5. St. Anthony’s Catholic Church
326 S. 3rd St.
Sterling, CO 80751