Father Joseph V. Corpora, CSC | January 19, 2017
One year ago today I woke up in a hotel in Monterrey, Mexico, to an e-mail informing me that my name had been submitted to Pope Francis to serve as a Missionary of Mercy for the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
I can still feel the emotion from that moment. I was excited and humbled. I remember thinking how I had received a lifetime of mercy from God. And with all the zeal of a young man I wanted to extend that mercy, to preach about that mercy, to offer that mercy. What I did not know at the time is the effect that serving as a Missionary of Mercy would have on me.
It has been an incredible gift and grace from God. I have been asked to give talks on mercy more times than I can count. I never got tired of giving these talks to priests, to parish groups, to high school kids, to Notre Dame students, to so many others. And each time, while talking, God convinced me even more of his relentless mercy, of his forgiveness, of his desire to show us mercy and tenderness and love. I would often think, “I hope that someone besides me is getting something out of this talk because I am more convinced of this than last time.”
When the Holy Father commissioned us on Ash Wednesday, he asked us to make ourselves available to hear confessions as often as we could. So I tried. I do not know how many confessions I heard — hundreds, perhaps more than a thousand. It does not matter. God gave me the opportunity to extend his mercy and forgiveness to countless people. I will always be grateful for this gift.
“Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been 62 years since my last confession. . . .”
“Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. I am so ashamed and embarrassed by what I am about to tell you. . . .”
“Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. I am not sure where to begin. . . .”
“Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. I am caught in a cycle of sin. . . .”