One of Pope Francis’ missionaries of mercy during the recent jubilee Year of Mercy has started working in Hamilton diocese.Kiwi-born Fr Richard Shortall, SJ, is to cross the Tasman five to six times a year to visit the diocese, Hamilton Bishop Stephen Lowe wrote on Facebook on June 11.

According to Bishop Lowe, the Jesuit’s mission is threefold — working as a spiritual director, running regular directed retreats for a maximum of six people at a time and offering
parish-based “retreats in daily life”.

Bishop Lowe wrote that the latter last about three weeks — people stay at home and commit to 30 minutes of prayer each day and meet the retreat director two or three times
a week.

The first “Retreat in Daily Life” directed by Fr Shortall took place in Whakatane last month.
The next is scheduled to take place in Gisborne.

Bishop Lowe noted that Fr Shortall’s services as a spiritual director were oversubscribed in three days. The bishop also wrote that the Jesuit may do similar “missionary of mercy” work in Hamilton diocese “at some stage” to that which he carried out in Australia.

In 2015 and 2016, some 1100 priests worldwide carried out a special mission for Pope Francis, to be living witnesses of God’s closeness and love, knocking on the doors of
people’s hearts and letting God come into their lives, especially those who had become distant from the Church.

Fr Shortall, an old boy of Francis Douglas Memorial College in New Plymouth before joining the Jesuits in 1971, was one of two missionaries of mercy in Australia.

He served during the jubilee year as a “missionary on wheels” for Maitland-Newcastle diocese, taking God’s mercy on the road to more than two dozen rural communities
that lacked a resident priest.

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