By Melissa Butz
In 2016, During the Jubilee Year of Mercy called for by Pope Francis, 1,071 priests were sent out as Missionaries of Mercy. They were given the special grace to forgive sins that hold penalties only the Apostolic See can lift.
“In this case we speak of the five sins reserved to the Holy See. Only the Missionaries of Mercy can absolve from such sins, no other,” said 2016 Jubilee organizer Monsignor Rino Fishichella.
Even though the Jubilee year ended, this ministry continues. Father Jeffrey Kirby is one of the most recent to be nominated as a Missionary of Mercy at his parish in Charleston, South Carolina.
“The Holy Father appoints the priest and then the local bishop gives the decree. That’s what’s happened in my case. My bishop encouraged, he’s promoted me,” Fr. Jeffrey explained. “I was given the appointment by the pope and now the bishop is presenting me with this decree.”
As an author, he said his writings on mercy could be a reason why he was selected. In 2016, he wrote a study called Doors of Mercy and then another on how Maria Goretti is a witness of mercy.
“Throughout my writings or different talks that I’ve done, I’ve always tried to accentuate that message of mercy because I think of all the messages the world is hearing – hate, intolerance – it seems we are told everything’s permissible, but nothing is forgivable,” he said. “I think it’s so important in our world today that the message of mercy be the predominant, emphasized message, especially from the Church.”
Fr. Jeffrey explained his mission will be carried out in his parish, with his parishioners. His goal is for his Charleston church to become a “field hospital for mercy,” as Pope Francis has asked, and for an overflowing of mercy throughout the world.