’Hurst unveils red ‘Door of Mercy’

Melanie Todd, Staff writer

In recognition of Pope Francis’ declaration of this church year as the Year of Mercy, Mercyhurst initiated its Door of Mercy Project. Mercyhurst carpenter Dan Barricklow built a movable red door for the project to symbolize the opportunity for mercy and symbolize the Church.

“We wanted, first of all, to call people’s attention to the fact that this is the Year of Mercy. We wanted a striking symbol for this, one that would draw people to reflection and action,” Gregory Baker, director of Campus Ministry said.

The biggest question on people’s minds seems to be why they chose to make the door red.

“Foremost, the door of the first House of Mercy on Baggott Street in Dublin is a red door. Throughout history, various Christian churches have used red doors with different symbolic meaning, such as the forgiveness of debts. The most prominent meaning for red doors is that it symbolizes a place of refuge and safety,” Baker said.

Baker referenced a recent quote from Pope Francis.

“As Pope Francis has implored, he wants Catholic communities to ‘become islands of mercy in the midst of a sea of indifference.’

“Pope Francis has declared this church year the Year of Mercy and has commissioned bishops around the world to set aside certain doors as symbolic places for persons seeking a deeper grace of mercy in their lives,” said Baker.

“While our door is not an officially designated door of mercy, it has important symbolic value for us as university in the tradition of the Sisters of Mercy.”

The inspiration for the door of Mercy came from President Victor after he saw a similar door at another Mercy institution.

The Sisters of Mercy sent an email to Baker recently, describing their journey to the door of Mercy at the Vatican and the ability of people at home to act on the principles of mercy.

The note from the Sisters of Mercy read, “for those of us at home, we are also invited daily to be a pilgrim — to step out into the unknown and unfamiliar to engage the giftedness and suffering of our world. We also are called to engage the holy doors of our daily lives. What holy doors have you opened, passed through or left ajar? What holy doors await you today and throughout this coming year? How are we, as sisters and brothers imbued with the charism of mercy, creating doorways and possibilities for those most in need? Let us pray in gratitude for this graced charism of mercy.”

For Baker, that is a good summary of what these holy doors of mercy are about: symbols for us to consider how we can have open doors and open hearts with mercy for others.

Mercyhurst’s door of Mercy was unveiled on March 9, during Mercy Week. During the unveiling ceremony, it was blessed by Father Jim Piszker. It is currently on display in the Mercy Heritage Room.

The door was on display for the presentation by Christopher Maccabe of Northern Ireland on Thursday, April 7, and the Romero Award lecture by Sister Mary Miller on Friday, April 8.

Discussions are ongoing as to where the door’s permanent home may be.