Door of Mercy visits St. Jude’s; visit in May slated for Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Standing by Mater Christi School’s Door of Mercy at Jude’s in Hinesburg, (L to R): Abigail Ulager, the Rev. David Cray and Anna Ulager.
Standing by Mater Christi School’s Door of Mercy at Jude’s in Hinesburg, (L to R): Abigail Ulager, the Rev. David Cray and Anna Ulager.

When Mater Christi School’s Traveling Door of Mercy came to Saint Jude’s Roman Catholic Parish in Hinesburg recently, the brightly-colored panels sparked joy and conversation among those who attended the April 10 Mass.

“It [the Door] caught people’s attention and focused it on the Holy Year,” said the Rev. David Cray, SSE, spiritual shepherd of St. Jude’s and nearby Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Charlotte. “It’s brightly-colored and attractive.”

Cray also pointed out that parishioners from the area are slated to make a pilgrimage July 16 to Saint Joseph’s Co-Cathedral in Burlington to visit the diocese’s Holy Door. July 16 marks the feast day of our Lady of Mount Carmel, the patroness of the Charlotte Catholic church.

The door will visit the Charlotte parish June 5.

When Pope Francis announced last year that he was calling a special jubilee year of mercy, the event captured the attention of local Catholic families, parishes and parochial schools.

As an outgrowth of that, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington asked its schools to craft a Holy Door, commemorating the Jubilee Year. Against the backdrop of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, students at Mater Christi came to the Burlington-based private, Catholic school infused with joy and excitement to talk about issues important to the Sisters of Mercy. From those fruitful discussions, students crafted images showing mercy, environmental and social justice concerns that are championed by the Roman Catholic order of nuns. According to Sister Joanne LaFreniere, public relations director of Mater Christi School, each classroom drew up a single image. Eventually, the designs were showcased with transparent paint, simulating stained glass then panels were arranged into two, unfinished pine frames, creating a pair of doors that are similar to a Catholic basilica in Rome.

“These full-size doors welcome people into God’s love by reminding us how to be instruments of mercy,” wrote Sister Joanne.

James Ulager, his wife, Alicia Veit, and their two daughters, Anna, 9, and Abigail, 5, were among other Mater Christi School families who attended the Mass at Saint Jude’s when the Mercy Door was on display. Ulager praised Cray’s pastoral leadership, noting his work with the parish underscores the Holy Year’s message. “We feel so blessed to have a priest, who helps our children feel connected both to their parish community and the greater Catholic community of faith.  He always makes time and space for acknowledging the contributions of the church’s youngest members,” Ulager said.

Ulager said Abigail and Anna shared with their faith community about their participation in crafting the Door of Mercy. Ulager and his wife, both physicians, also pointed out that the Jubilee Year is a springboard for their family to talk about their faith and how to put it into daily practice in their lives.” The Year of Mercy is very special to us as a family because it emphasizes what we feel is the most essential parts of our faith,” he said. “Since Mater Christ is sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, we feel that it has given our children a special chance to appreciate and recognize the wonderful, self-giving work that the Sisters of Mercy have been providing in our community for so many years.  We feel blessed that our children are able to attend a school where this work continues today – and where conversations about ways we can be merciful are part of their experience.”

Mater Christi School personnel forward The Citizen’s email request for comment on the school’s Holy Door to families from Hinesburg, Charlotte and Ferrisburgh for comment. The Ulager-Veit family was the only one to respond by press time.