Frs. Brausch, Fernandes Named “Missionaries of Mercy”
Pope Francis has named two Archdiocese of Cincinnati priests “Missionaries of Mercy” for the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy that began in December.
Father Anthony Brausch, who serves as Vice Rector and Director of Formation for Mount St. Mary’s Seminary of the West and Director of the Permanent Deacon Program, and Father Earl Fernandes, who serves as Dean of The Athenaeum of Ohio/Mount St. Mary’s Seminary of the West, will fly to Rome in February to be commissioned as Missionaries of Mercy by the pope.
Worldwide, 800 priests will receive the commission. One hundred will be within the United Sates.
“It’s a great honor to be able to serve the Church in this way,” says Fr. Fernandes. “I am also excited because during our time in Rome, there will be veneration of the relics of two great confessors and saints: Padre Pio and Leopold Mandic.
“Saint Leopold was a Capuchin Friar from Croatia who famously said, ‘Be at peace; place everything on my shoulders. I give my penitents only small penances because I do the rest myself.’ I hope and pray that these great saints will help Fr. Brausch and me by their example and by their prayers.
Pope Francis will welcome the priests on Feb. 9th and is expected to speak about the role he is asking them to undertake through various initiatives organized for the Jubilee, especially preaching and Confession. The following day, Ash Wednesday, the pope will confer the mandate during Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica.
Some priests of the priests Pope Francis applied to become Missionaries of Mercy, while others were recommended by the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization. All were approved by their bishops.
“The Holy Father’s point, obviously, isn’t that the priests who have been given this title are the only priests who are missionaries of mercy,” says Fr. Brausch. “All Christians are missionaries of God’s mercy. But the Holy Father does want to emphasize that God’s mercy is made especially present in the Sacraments instituted by God’s own Son.
“In this sense, all priests are missionaries of God’s mercy celebrated through the sacraments. I think the Holy Father’s idea behind designating certain priests with this title is to highlight the other two realities”
According to Fr. Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, the 800 Missionaries of Mercy will hold retreats and hear Confessions, and for the duration of the Year of Mercy will be able to absolve sins normally reserved to the Pope.
Popes generally permit bishops to absolve these sins, which include profaning the Eucharist and procuring an abortion, but for the Year of Mercy will extend that faculty to the special corps of “Missionaries.”
“I am personally very proud of my friends and the entire Athenaeum community is honored by this announcement,” Fr. Benedict O’Cinnsealaigh, president of The Atheneaum and rector of the seminary, wrote in a letter announcing the news. “Let us pray God will bless their special ministry of mercy with abundant fruit.”
For more about the Jubilee Year of Mercy, see the official website.
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