The church of Holy Cross and St Helen in St Helens town centre will, this Friday 4 March, be united with Pope Francis in Rome for a celebration of '24 hours for the Lord'.
Holy Cross is designated as a Jubilee Church for the Year of Mercy called by Pope Francis and on 8 December 2015 the Most Reverend Malcolm McMahon OP, Archbishop of Liverpool, inaugurated a Holy Door making it a place of pilgrimage during this special period of grace.
In his message for Lent 2016, Pope Francis spoke of the 24-hour prayer initiative, saying, "By calling for an attentive listening to the word of God and encouraging '24 Hours for the Lord', I sought to stress the primacy of prayerful listening to God's word, especially his prophetic word. The mercy of God is a proclamation made to the world, a proclamation which each Christian is called to experience at first hand."
He added: "Mercy expresses God's way of reaching out to the sinner, offering him a new chance to look at himself, convert and believe, thus restoring his relationship with Him. In Jesus crucified, God shows His desire to draw near to sinners, however far they may have strayed from Him."
The Vigil at Holy Cross, with exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, will take place from 4pm on Friday 4 March until 4pm on Saturday 5 March, during which time priests from across the Archdiocese will be available for the Sacrament of Confession and Reconciliation.
With watching throughout the night, Evening Prayer will be held at 7pm on Friday and Benediction at midnight. Morning Prayer will be celebrated at 9am on Saturday followed by Mass at 9.30am and the Rosary at 10am. Midday Prayer will follow at noon with Father Peter Kelly, one of the 'Missionaries of mercy' specially commissioned by Pope Francis. The Vigil will conclude with Evening Prayer followed by Benediction at 3.30pm on Saturday.
Parish priest of Holy Cross, Father Sean Riley says: "Everyone is welcome to unite with the worldwide Church by taking part in this, our local celebration. We want to help people come home to Jesus, to know His love and His mercy in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Whether you come to church every day or haven't been to church for years, you will be welcome – please come home."