By JOANNE FOX
Not only was she able to grow in her Catholic faith and appreciate the power of mercy, Mader passed through 30 Holy Doors – including St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome – from March to November in 2016.
Mader first learned about the Holy Doors from reading an article in The Catholic Globe on the Pope’s Extraordinary Year of Mercy, which ran from Dec. 8, 2015 to Nov 20, 2016.
“The article explained the plenary indulgence that could be obtained with the passage through a Holy Door, if all the requirements were met – reception of the sacraments of reconciliation and Communion, and prayers for the intentions of the Holy Father,” she said.
Mader’s first Holy Door visit was to Sioux City on March 25, 2016.
“I had never been to the Cathedral of the Epiphany in Sioux City – the only Holy Door in the Sioux City Diocese – so this was an excellent reason to make the trip,” she said.
“I also passed through Holy Doors in churches in Missouri and Nebraska,” she said. “The Italy Holy Doors included the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi and the Abbey of Montecassino in Cassino. Vatican City was my last Holy Door on Nov. 14, 2016.”
The highlight of Year of Mercy for Mader was going through the St. Peter’s Holy Door the week prior to the closing of the Year of Mercy.
“In 2012, I traveled to Italy with my daughter, Emily, and two sisters and we commented on how we would return in 2025 when the Holy Door would be opened again,” she said. “Little did we know that it would be only four years later that Pope Francis would declare an Extraordinary Year of Mercy.”
Mader visited the majority of the Holy Doors with her sister, Andi Hansen, who lives in Denison.
“My husband, Bill, accompanied me on the visits to the Holy Doors in Des Moines and eastern Iowa,” she said. “Also, for the last four years in June, I have gone on a pilgrimage with my sister along with a group from St. Rose of Lima in Denison. This last year, we traveled to Wisconsin where we had the privilege of going through four Holy Doors as part of the pilgrimage.”
Mader, a parishioner at Holy Trinity Parish of Webster County, and her sister watched the funeral services for Mother Angelica on EWTN and admired the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament that the nun built in Alabama.
“In researching the shrine, we discovered they also had a Holy Door. A group of us, including two of my sisters, rented a van and traveled to Alabama over the Labor Day weekend to pass through the Holy Door of the Most Blessed Sacrament and the Holy Door at the cathedral in Birmingham,” she said. “On our way home, we stopped in Paducah, Ky., to go through a Holy Door at St. Thomas Moore parish.”
Mader admitted getting to all of the Holy Doors was no easy task.
“The greatest challenge was in scheduling a time with the parishes to visit the churches to go through the Holy Doors,” she said. “Many of them were small parishes with limited times for visitation. I had to make phone calls and send emails to coordinate when the churches would be open.”
In addition to passing through the Holy Doors, Mader expressed her appreciation for the beauty of the churches.
“Each had their own distinct characteristics, whether it be the altar, the statues, the windows and/or the architecture,” she said. “To spend time praying and reflecting on the people who have passed through each of these doors over the years is an inner feeling that made traveling to them so special.”
Mader, an administrative assistant at St. Edmond Schools, shared her experiences and pictures with family and friends.
“I also purchased a rosary from each place which reminds me, not only of our Blessed Mother and our faith, but also the special places that exist in our world, with some being only miles away,” she said.
Although the Holy Doors are now closed, Mader plans to be on the road again this year.
“My travel buddies and I are planning a pilgrimage to Fatima and Lourdes in November,” she said. “Poland, a land so rich in history with St. John Paul II, St. Faustina and St. Maximillian Kolbe, is on my list as well.”