In our Diocese [the Diocese of Greensburg] this was a significant day for two other reasons: first was the blessing and opening of the Porta Sancta in five churches designated as Churches of Pilgrimage in our Diocese throughout this Jubilee Year of Mercy called for by Pope Francis. The Porta Sancta or Holy Door is part of the tradition of a special year of grace and jubilee, and traditionally are to be found in the four major churches or basilicas of Rome. I hope to explain the tradition of the Holy Door in my next post. The Holy Father has asked that this idea of a place of entry for pilgrims be extended to every Cathedral church in the world, and other designated placed in each diocese. In addition to Blessed Sacrament Cathedral in Greensburg, Bishop Malesic has designated one church in each of our four counties as pilgrimage churches: Saint Vincent Archabbey Basilica in Latrobe; Saints Simon & Jude Church in Blairsville; Christ, Prince of Peace Church in Ford City and Saint Francis of Assisi Church (Footedale site) in Fayette County.
Bishop Malesic opened the Porta Sancta at the Cathedral at their late morning Mass, paving the way for pilgrims to journey to our Mother Church and receive graces. It was a great moment in Greensburg and in those four other communities.
Later that afternoon, at a 3:00 pm Ordination ceremony, Bishop Malesic ordained a young man of our diocese to the transitional diaconate. His name is Ryan Ravis and he is from Sacred Heart parish in Youngstown, Pennsylvania. God willing, he will be ordained to the priesthood in early summer. The ordination was beautiful, and many who were there for the first time for such an occasion were in awe. Ryan, I am sure, was nervous, but did not give evidence to that fact. And neither did our new bishop. He told everyone before his homily that he called Ryan on Saturday evening to see if he was ready. They compared notes as to who was more nervous - Ryan who had never been ordained before, or the bishop who had never ordained anyone before. The bishop acknowledged that he was probably more nervous. He did fine, however.
Our bishop has a great preaching style, relaxed, informed, informal, pastoral and with a wonderful sense of humor. Ryan afterwards spoke of how meaningful the bishop's words to him and to us all were. We were blest on Sunday with a reason and a call to rejoice and be glad, with a "doorway" into the sacred that was presented to us in this Jubilee Year of Mercy, and with a friend and brother who has accepted the call to serve in the office of deacon. I've included a picture of Ryan with his family with the bishop.