How Can We Celebrate the Year of St. Paul?

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Pope Benedict XVI calls us to a year long celebration of the life and teachings of St. Paul the Apostle.  The holy year began with the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul on June 29 when I celebrated Mass at Sts. Peter & Paul Mission Church in Estancia, the only Church in the Archdiocese dedicated to St. Paul.  The holy year concludes with the Feast of Sts. Peter & Paul on June 29, 2009.

This year marks the 2,000th anniversary of the birth of St. Paul and there will be celebrations throughout the world in honor of him.  There will be various ceremonies in Rome where he was martyred, buried and honored with the magnificent Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.  The Holy Father encourages each diocese to enter into the graces of this holy year as well.  I am grateful to Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix for some of the ideas that I share with you.

  1. I’ve designated four churches as places of pilgrimage in our Archdiocese.  These are:
    1. Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi in Santa Fe
    2. Our Lady of Annunciation Church in Albuquerque
    3. St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Rio Rancho
    4. Sts. Peter & Paul Mission Church in Estancia (part of the Estancia Valley Catholic Parish in Moriarty)
  2. A plenary indulgence may be obtained any day during the holy year by making a pilgrimage, individually or with others, to one of these churches and fulfilling the conditions required by the Church.  The following dates have special significance:
    1. January 25, 2009 Conversion of St. Paul
    2. February 10, 2009 Shipwreck of St. Paul
    3. April 19, 2009 Divine Mercy Sunday
    4. June 19, 2009 Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
    5. June 28-29, 2009 Vigil and Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul
  3. The conditions required for obtaining a plenary indulgence are the following:
    1. Sacramental Confession within a week of the pilgrimage
    2. Reception of Holy Communion
    3. Prayers for the intentions of the Pope (such as one Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be)
    4. A spirit of total detachment of any inclination to sin
    5. A desire to join spiritually in the jubilee celebration in honor of St. Paul
  1. In addition to any special intention that each person may bring to the pilgrimage, I ask you to pray for an increase of vocations to the priesthood and religious life and our outreach of evangelization to the inactive Catholics and un churched people.

A plenary indulgence is a special gift offered by God through the Church to help obtain purity of heart and holiness of life.  Paragraph 1471 of the Catechism tells us that an indulgence is the remission before God of temporal punishment due to sin whose guilt has already been forgiven.

In the Year of St. Paul let us gladly join with our Holy Father and with fellow Catholics around the worlds seeking a deeper conversion in imitation of the zeal of St. Paul.

Sincerely yours in the Risen Lord,
Most Rev. Michael J. Sheehan
Archbishop of Santa Fe