Doors illustrate mercy themes

A table in the gathering space Dec. 12 at Prince of Peace Church in Bellevue, Wis., offers materials on the topic of mercy. (CNS/Sam Lucero, The Compass)
This article appears in the Holy Year of Mercy feature series. View the full series.

Bellevue, Wis. — Tying together the parish's Advent theme of mercy with the Holy Year of Mercy, Prince of Peace Parish in Bellevue invited six families to take home real wooden doors donated by a parishioner and turn them into doors of mercy. They used paint, paper, metal, glass, rocks, mirrors and other materials to decorate the doors, which are now on display in the church gathering space.

The idea to create and illustrate the doors of mercy came from pastor Fr. Dan Viertel. The priest and the parish's arts and environment committee chair, Anne Counard, attended a diocesan meeting about the Holy Year of Mercy that got the parish project rolling.

"We were talking about decorating one of our big doors and the diocese said, 'Well, it's really for the cathedrals more than it is for the parishes,' " Viertel recalled.

Since the parish's Advent theme of mercy -- which will continue during Lent -- was already set, the parish decided to tie it in with something to which the parishioners could relate.

Viertel, who before entering the priesthood owned five gift stores in Berlin, Wis., said he was inspired by the door theme from his gift shop days. He recalled participating in "Dazzling Doors of Downtown" in which Berlin retail stores competed for the best-decorated store door.

"Then, lo and behold, here comes a little devotional book and that kind of set everything in motion," Viertel said. He announced the idea at Masses and six families volunteered to choose one of the themes in the book and illustrate it on a door.

The six themes, featured in the Advent reflection booklet, A Season of Mercy, from Twenty-Third Publications, are: Mercy is all-embracing; mercy means crossing the moat; mercy is surrender; mercy is family love; mercy is reaching out; and mercy is looking at God.

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