The Catholic Americas come together for the Year of Mercy

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South America's Catholic leaders will celebrate the Catholic Church's Year of Mercy in a special way, gathering for a continental celebration in Colombia. They will pray a rosary for the Americas, visit poor parts of Bogota, and reflect on the example of the saints.

The Celebration of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy aims to be "a sign of the communion of the churches of the whole continent, mutually committed to celebrating and radiating the Gospel of Mercy from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego," organizers said.

Pope Francis will send a video message to the gathering's inauguration.

The Aug. 27-30 event will draw participants from all the countries of South America. Fifteen cardinals and more than 120 bishops have registered for the event. The more than 400 attendees include rectors of National Marian Shrines, religious superiors, and directors of associations and new ecclesial communities.

The celebration was jointly organized by the Pontifical Commission for Latin America and the Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM).

Cardinal Marc Ouellet, president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, will lead the event. Among his collaborators will be Cardinal Rubén Salazar of Bogota, who is president of CELAM.

Archbishop Rino Fisichella, the president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, will deliver remarks on the theme of the Year of Mercy, as will Cardinal Ouellet.

The event will begin with a penitential liturgy to encourage an examination of conscience, confessions, and an opportunity for all the participants to seek mercy for themselves.

One part of the gathering will feature the saints of the Americas. The presentation will reflect on missionary saints of the evangelization, such as California missionary Junipero Serra; the saintly mystics like Rose of Lima; the saints of the defenseless like Peter Claver and Mother Cabrini; the saints of charity like Martin De Porres and Katharine Drexel; the educator saints like John Neumann; and the martyr saints like the Mexican Martyrs, Kateri Tekakwitha and Oscar Romero.

Father Eduardo Chavez, Canon of the Basilica of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, will speak on the topic "Holiness in the Time of Pope Francis." He will draw on the example of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

A full day of the gathering will focus on the works of mercy in the Americas. A panel will discuss efforts like Hogar de Christo (Christ's Home) in Chile, migrant assistance projects and Project Rachel, the U.S.-based project that helps women who have had abortions.

Participants in the celebration will visit places in Bogota that focus on the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. They will visit some of the poorest places of the city at its "social and existential peripheries," organizers said.

Archbishop Luis Augusto Castro Quiroga of Tunja, who heads the Colombian Bishops' Conference, will give a joint presentation with Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles. The presentation's theme is "Mercy as the Soul of a Culture of Encounter, Forgiveness and Reconciliation on the American Continent."

The event's final hours will include a Continental Rosary for Peace. Bogota's Cardinal Salazar will celebrate the closing Mass.

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