We continue our celebration of Easter as we observe the Fourth Sunday of Easter today. This Sunday is traditionally known as “Good Shepherd Sunday.” This came to be because in all three cycles of the Lectionary, the Gospel for the Fourth Sunday of Easter gives us one of the Good Shepherd sayings from John’s Gospel. “I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” Besides being a very comforting and reassuring saying, it also helps us to continue our Easter reflection on the gift of the Eucharist.
A normal feature of the Easter Season is that the Scripture readings guide us in a reflection on the Sacraments of Initiation that were celebrated at the Easter Vigil. The Gospel readings of the daily Masses of the past week all came from the great Bread of Life discourse found in John, Chapter 6. “I myself am the bread of life. No one who comes t me shall ever be hungry, no one who believes in me shall ever thirst”(John 6:35). The Good Shepherd is really a continuation of our reflection on the Eucharist. The Good Shepherd cares for, nurtures and feeds his sheep. Our Shepherd not only feeds us, but feeds us with his body and his blood. Our Shepherd nourishes the life we received in Baptism with his very body and blood.
Good Shepherd Sunday also gives us a chance to observe the 52nd Annual World Day of Prayer for Vocations. We join with the church throughout the world in praying for vocations. The Joliet Diocesan Vocation Office web pages (www.vocations.com) are a good way to learn more about priesthood, religious life, and other church vocations. Information is also available by seeing one of our parish priests or calling the vocation office at 815-834-4004. It was recently reported that 2/3rds of the world’s 1.1 billion Roman Catholics live in developing countries and see a priest for only a few days once a year. Fortunately, our situation in our country is much different. Still, we are ordaining only four new priests for our diocese next month. For the present, we join with the church in observing today’s World Day of Prayer for Vocations and ask the Lord to bless us with good and dedicated priests to faithfully serve the church.
Since Easter is the primary season of initiation into the church community, we intentionally schedule our special celebrations of the Sacraments of Initiation (First Communion and Confirmation) during the Easter Season. We will hold our parish celebrations of First Communion beginning next Saturday, May 2nd and continuing on Saturday, May 9th. Two First Communion Masses will be celebrated each day. Confirmation will be celebrated on Saturday, May 16, 2015, with two separate celebrations at 10:00am and 1:30pm. Abbot Dismas Kalcic, OSB, of St. Procopius Abbey in Lisle will be our celebrant. As we prayed throughout Lent for those entering the church at the Easter Vigil, so now we pray for our young people who will be celebrating Sacraments of Initiation in May.
Last Saturday, when we received our weekly up-date on our parish’s progress in the 2015 Joliet Diocesan Catholic Ministries Annual Appeal, we received some very happy news! Not only had the number of participating households in our parish topped 1,000 participants, but we also learned that we had reached our 2015 parish goal of $161,241 in pledges! As of Saturday, April 18th, we had pledged $163,542 to the 2015 Joliet Diocesan Catholic Ministries Appeal. Thank you to the 1003 households who have pledged $163,542 towards our parish goal. Our additional efforts towards 100% participation to reach our parish goal this year is paying off! We also learned that we have passed the half way point in pledges paid with $82,879 already paid towards our parish goal. Thank you all for your generous response. Our final goal is to reach the 2015 parish goal in paid pledges. As circumstances can change for some between the time a pledge is made and able to be paid-in-full, I want to encourage everyone who has not had a chance to respond to the 2015 Joliet Diocesan Catholic Ministries Annual Appeal to do so as soon as possible. We have additional commitment envelopes at the Parish Office and the Hospitality Desk in the Church. On-line pledges can be made at the Appeal’s website – www.jolietdioceseappeal.org. Once we have reached our goal in paid pledges, the parish receives a rebate of 60% of anything paid over our goal. As plans are in the works for our parish to host a “mobile pack” for Feeding Our Starving Children, a portion of any rebate we receive will be given to that project. Please be faithful in making your monthly pledge payments. Thank you again to all those who have already responded and helped us reach our 2015 goal in pledges. Your generosity is deeply appreciated.
Bishop Daniel Conlon recently asked us to announce that he is appointing Father Josh Miller to be the next pastor at St. Charles Borromeo parish in Bensenville, effective June 24, 2015. While I am sorry to be loosing him here at St. Isidore’s, I am very confident that he will be an excellent pastor to the people at St. Charles Borromeo. And I was happy to learn that soon-to-be Father Clive Otieno will be assigned as a Parochial Vicar at St. Isidore’s. He is currently a transitional deacon and is finishing up his seminary formation at Mundelein Seminary. He and his classmates will be ordained priests at St. Raymond’s Cathedral in Joliet on Saturday, May 16, 2015. Both assignments will be effective on Wednesday, June 24, 2015. We plan on providing an opportunity as a parish to say good-bye to Father Josh over the weekend of June 20/21. Please keep both Father Josh and Deacon Clive in our prayers as Father Josh takes leave of us and Deacon Clive prepares for his ordination and the beginning of his priestly ministry among us.
Last week’s rain has transformed our lawns, trees and bushes with new life. Let us take time to enjoy this beautiful season of the year. May God continue to bless us with everything that we need, and more.
Father Jim Murphy