My dear brother Priests and Parish Life Facilitators:
Warmest greetings and good wishes to you in this holy season of Advent!
I thank you for your efforts to join with me in prayerfully and joyfully celebrating the Jubilee Year of grace that is quickly coming to a close.
We are reminded of the great challenges our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, set for us as he launched the Jubilee preparation and called the Christian community in the face of the coming of the Third Millennium to “lift its eyes of faith to embrace new horizons in proclaiming the Kingdom of God” (Bull of Indiction of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, #2).
I hope that we as a Christian community will see ourselves as challenged by this invitation long into the Third Millennium.
I have one final request of you in helping our Catholic faithful meet that challenge prayerfully in the remaining days of our Jubilee Year.
As you recall, the theme for the Jubilee Year has been “Open Wide the Doors to Christ.”
While in New York recently, I was able to visit St. Patrick’s Cathedral one evening at about 8:30 p.m. Draped at the left of the front entrance was a banner with the words “Open Wide the Doors to Christ.” I was impressed by the fact that the rector of St. Patrick’s Cathedral was taking those words literally and making it possible for people to stream into St. Patrick’s off 5th Avenue during the Jubilee Year at an evening hour to make a visit before the Blessed Sacrament. Of course, there were security people stationed strategically to oversee the situation! How fitting a symbolic gesture the open doors of St. Patrick’s were, reflecting the theme of the Jubilee Year!
I would invite a similar response among parishes and missions of the Diocese of Charleston, where possible, especially in the case of those churches selected as sites for the Jubilee Plenary Indulgence.
When and where practically feasible, I would invite those parishes in the diocese to “Open Wide their Doors” in the remaining days of the Jubilee Year, at designated hours, to enable people to prayerfully thank the Lord for the blessings of the Jubilee Year and to ask his manifold blessings on the New Millennium.
We know how difficult it is in our day and time to unlock church doors for people to enter and pray, and it is becoming increasingly more difficult to do so. Aware as I am of recent vandalism in parish churches of the diocese, I would not ask this effort where volunteer security people from parish organizations could not be available.
In the face of such obstacles we are still challenged to provide opportunities, with due care and discretion, for people to enter and pray. Never more has society needed such opportunities for prayer.
Thank you for considering this invitation to symbolically show our solidarity with the Jubilee Year summons to “Open Wide the Doors to Christ.”
Respectfully yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Robert J. Baker, S.T.D.
Bishop of Charleston