The Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle's Missionary of Mercy, Richard Shortall sj, has crossed the halfway point of his 'ministry on wheels' in the Hunter and Manning Regions.
Early this year Richard was personally commissioned by Pope Francis in Rome as one of 1000 Missionaries of Mercy ministering throughout the world. However, he is the only one travelling in a motor home throughout a diocese and being, literally, the face of mercy to many communities.
This month Fr Shortall is making his way around the Manning district, parking his motorhome in turn at Cundletown, Old Bar and Wingham. His pattern has been that he 'camps' in places where there is a church but no resident priest. View his full schedule at the diocesan website.
While visiting a community, he presides at Mass, offers a session of Guided Prayer for Healing and Mercy, engages with the locals and is available for conversation and if desired, the sacrament of penance.
"Each day I will be available to anyone who wishes to chat. I welcome all who seek mercy, a listening ear and forgiveness."
Residents of communities he has already visited have welcomed him warmly, offering hospitality and also trusting him with their deepest concerns and greatest dreams.
Fr Shortall stresses that he's there for all members of the community, people with or without faith. In a world that undervalues silence and solitude, he offers both – as well as a sympathetic ear and a healing touch.
The Year of Mercy was announced by Pope Francis last year and launched by him in Rome last December.
To learn more please visit the diocesan Year of Mercy web page and news item at mnnews.today.