Kemptville Ontario — On Thursday, November 19, the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario celebrated the first-ever pilgrimage mass to commemorate the introduction of the symbol of the Holy Door. Members of the Catholic school community from all areas of the CDSBEO attended the event, which hosted a mass celebrated by Archbishop Brendan O’Brien of the Kingston Archdiocese.
Five doors have been hand-painted by CDSBEO schools, into beautiful works of art, each representing a region of the Board. The project originated from Pope Francis’ announcement during Lent last year, that on December 8, 2015, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Catholics would enter into an Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy.
The initial rite of the Jubilee is the opening of the Holy Door to St. Peter’s Basilica. This door is one which is only opened during a Holy Year and which remains closed during all other years. This rite of the opening of the Holy Door illustrates symbolically the idea that, during the Jubilee, the faithful are offered an “extraordinary pathway” towards salvation.
“This evening we have witnessed the coming together of people from every part of our vast school board,” explained Wm. J. Gartland, Director of Education.
He continued, “Our Holy Doors stand as a symbol of our unity. Carried lovingly this evening, from each corner of our board, they illustrate what makes us unique, and demonstrates the strong bond that exists between us and the community – strong communities that are created when we are hinged together.”
“Our board has a long tradition of engaging in social justice action,” noted Board Chair, Brent Laton. “Through these acts of mercy and compassion, our students are fulfilling the wishes of Pope Francis in the Year of Mercy. It is exciting to witness the unveiling of our very own special Holy Doors this evening.”
Archbishop O’Brien blessed the symbolic doors. During his homily, His Grace noted, “This evening’s pilgrimage is a coming together of faith, around the theme of Christ who is our light. In making this pilgrimage, we are reminded that we are to live with the light of Christ in us, and as children of the light, are tasked with bringing Christ’s light to the world. And so, by making this pilgrimage we emphasize the distinctive character and mission that underlies Catholic education.”
The doors will be brought together for various events throughout the board, and hinged together to signify unity across the CDSBEO.
The Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario operates 40 elementary and 10 secondary schools across eight counties. The CDSBEO offers excellence in Catholic education through provincial-leading programs to approximately 12,900 students.