KENTUCKY | More than 1,000 Missionaries of Mercy were appointed worldwide by Pope Francis on Ash Wednesday in 2016. Their call was to be a living sign of the Father’s welcome to all those seeking forgiveness. Today there are 911. What was the Diocese of Orlando’s own Missionary of Mercy, Father Anthony Aarons, thinking when he saw that number? “9-1-1, What’s your emergency?” he said. Adding, “Mercy is on the way.”
On Jan. 21, Father Aarons joined more than 30 of those U.S. missionaries in Lexington, KY for the first meeting of the American-based ambassadors in the U.S., led by Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization. The three-day gathering served to help them refuel their fervor, continue formation and facilitate fraternity.
“It was a joy to interact with other missionaries and share our ministries,” Father Aarons said. Each day focused on a different aspect of their call: Word, worship, and witness.
Their mandate to facilitate encounter and help “take up the new life of Baptism again” has been both a joy and strenuous responsibility, but Father Aarons said the gathering reminded him, “I am not alone.” He admitted, “It (being a missionary) was more than I expected. Thinking of what Pope Francis said, ‘Anything done in the name of Jesus is a work of mercy—I see all of these things that are happening. People seeking all kinds of assistance, with spiritual and emotional problems in particular, and they are getting help and that is a work of mercy.”
The ambassadors of mercy renewed their commitment to the pope’s mandate, guided by the words from Rom. 11:32, “For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy upon all.” Inspiring them as preachers of mercy, Pope Francis granted these Missionaries the authority to pardon even those sins reserved to the Holy See.
“I love being a missionary of mercy because, for me, it is collaborating with Jesus being the face of God’s mercy in the world,” Father Aarons stated joyfully. “It’s about listening and being present to people.”
The Missionaries of Mercy in the United States are currently building a website so people can more easily find them and learn more about what they do. They hope to launch missionariesofmercyusa.org in time for Lent.
By Glenda Meekins of the Florida Catholic February 21, 2020