Today we continue our celebration of Easter with the feast of the Ascension. Normally this feast is celebrated on the 40th day of Easter, which would have been last Thursday. Fifteen years ago, our Bishops received permission to transfer the observance of the feast to the nearest Sunday. This had already been the practice in the western states of our country. The Bishops of the state of Illinois agreed to make the transfer, which took effect in May 2000. With the feast of Pentecost coming up next Sunday, we now move into the final week of the Easter Season.
During this final week of the Easter Season, we join with the Apostles and Mary as they waited for the Risen Lord to fulfill his promise to send the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit strengthens us in our efforts to be better disciples of the Lord and to put his values and teachings into practice more and more in our lives. St. Paul tells us that the gifts of the Spirit are “love, Joy, peace, patient endurance, kindness, generosity, faith, mildness and chastity”(Galatians 5:22-23). Wherever these gifts are found, the Spirit of God is present. Conversely, if we are lacking in any of these gifts, we have yet to fully open our hearts to the presence of God’s Spirit in our lives. Notice that St. Paul does not included anger, resentment, bickering, grudges, prejudice, a judgmental or unforgiving heart among the gifts of the Spirit. These all come from another spirit! As we prepare to celebrate the feast of Pentecost next Sunday, it is important that we pray for an outpouring of all of these gifts upon ourselves, our parish and our larger church.
Yesterday – Saturday, May 16th – four new priests were ordained by Bishop Conlon at the Cathedral of St. Raymond in Joliet. Among them was Father Clive Otieno, who will be assigned as our new Parochial Vicar at St. Isidore’s, effective June 24th. That is also the date that Father Josh begins his new assignment as pastor of St. Charles Borromeo parish in Bensenville. We will have an opportunity to express our gratitude to Father Josh for his two years of service at St. Isidore’s over the weekend of June 20/21. As is the custom with “Moving Day” in our diocese, as Father Josh moves out, Father Clive moves in. We will welcome Father Clive to our parish over the first weekend of his assignment, June 27/28. With the dwindling numbers of priests in our diocese, we are very blessed to have three full-time priests assigned to our parish.
Also yesterday – Saturday, May 16th – we celebrated two Confirmation Masses during which 189 candidates from our parish were confirmed. Abbot Dismas Kalcic, O.S.B., of St. Procopius Abbey in Lisle, was with us to preside at both celebrations of this sacrament and to complete the Christian initiation journey with our young people. Congratulations to all of our teens who were confirmed this year. We are very happy to see you take the next step in your lives as disciples of the Lord Jesus.
Our Confirmation celebrations complete our various Initiation celebrations during the Easter Season. We began at the Easter Vigil on April 4th with the Baptism, Confirmation and First Communion of our adult RCIA candidates. Over the first two Saturdays of May, we celebrated four First Communion Masses with our second graders. And yesterday we celebrated Confirmation with our teens. It has been a very fruitful and busy Easter Season at our parish. God continues to bless us!
Most of our college students have completed their spring semester and have returned home. Congratulations to those who have graduated. Many of our local high schools are holding their graduation ceremonies over the next few weekends. I am again honored to be able to celebrate the graduation Mass for St. Francis High School later this afternoon at St. John Neumann parish in St. Charles. Congratulations to all of our high school students who are graduating in the Class of 2015.
As we celebrate the Feast of Pentecost next weekend, we will also hold our third and final stewardship renewal of this year – the renewal of our talents. As the Spirit came upon the disciples as Jesus promised, they were strengthened to go out into the streets and share the gifts that they had been given. Pentecost gives us an ideal opportunity to respond to the gift of the Spirit bestowed upon us by offering to share our talents with the larger community. Please look for the stewardship renewal of talents materials in the mail during the week and bring them with you next weekend. We will take a few minutes after the homily to make our commitments at each Mass next weekend.
Thank you for your generosity in contributing to the emergency Catholic Relief Services (CRS) second collection last weekend for the earthquake victims in Nepal. You donated $9049 over and above your regular Sunday offering. This will be sent directly to Catholic Relief Services, who are already in Nepal serving the earthquake victims.
As always, may God continue to bless us with all that we need, and more.
Father Jim Murphy