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St Martin Deanery Catholic Rural Life celebrates Year of Mercy

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Father Dohrman Byers leads a Walk of Mercy in Brown County (Courtesy Photo)
Father Dohrman Byers leads a Walk of Mercy in Brown County (Courtesy Photo)

The St. Martin Deanery Catholic Rural Life in collaboration with the archdiocesan Catholic Social Action Office and the Ursulines of Brown County sponsored a Walk of Mercy for the Land and its People Oct. 23 at the motherhouse grounds of the Ursulines in St. Martin.

The walk was planned in response to Pope Francis’ call to observe a jubilee year of mercy. Father Dohrman Byers, pastor of St. George, Georgetown; St. Mary, Arnheim; and St. Michael, Ripley, presided.

He introduced the day by saying, “With his encyclical Laudato Si’: On Care of Our Common Home, the Holy Father has reminded us that our life and the natural environment on which our life depends are gifts of God’s mercy, so are they also a charge, a stewardship laid upon us. We are called to be channels of God’s mercy, both to one another and to the land, the water, the plants and animals that share our common home and which, indeed, make it habitable and hospitable. The human community is not separate or separable from the community of all living things and the resources we depend on.”

The procession of almost 100 persons visited historic and naturally beautiful sites on the grounds of the Ursulines of Brown County who came to this then wilderness in 1845. The four sites included both the farmland and waterway that the sisters placed in conservation easement, and the Pioneer Cemetery, a burial ground for the early founders of the then St. Martin Church in 1823. Paul Holden, a direct descendant of William Bamber, donor of the land for the first church, read the description of the significance of that sacred space. The last site visited was the sisters’ cemetery, where Archbishop John Purcell was also laid to rest. The walk ended with Benediction in the Ursuline’s Sacred Heart Chapel. A reception was provided by the Women of St. Angela Merici Parish at the Chatfield College Mongan Building.

Among the participants who came from both local and distant places were 14 members of St. Mary’s and Sidney Deanery Catholic Rural Life, who also had lunch at the college and visited a local farm prior to the walk. The local Knights of Columbus provided transportation for those unable to walk the distance.
Father Byers reminded participants during the silent walk and readings from Deuteronomy at each site that “It is the bond between land and people, the covenant of mercy between God, His people and the land, that we come today to reflect upon and to renew.”

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