Before my column this week, I’d like to share this announcement:
CONFIRMATION AT ST. ISIDORE
For quite some time there have been conversations about the age of Confirmation at St. Isidore parish. It was one of the items that we heard during the Parish Assessment of January 2013. Since then I have been approached by a number of families inquiring about our current practice of 9th grade Confirmation. Some have asked for Confirmation in 8th grade, as is the practice in many parishes in our diocese. Others have advocated for Confirmation at a later time, allowing for greater maturity and fearing that it would be confused with graduation. I have asked our staff to develop a curriculum that will honor what we have heard and is flexible to the needs of the 160 families per year that this program serves. We are looking at offering two options in both our school and RE groups. Families can choose the option that fits their family best. One option includes offering the instruction sessions during 8th grade for both the school and RE groups with remaining service projects, retreat and interview leading to a celebration of Confirmation in the Fall of 9th grade. The other option is our current 9th grade program with instruction sessions, service projects, retreat, and interview leading towards the celebration of Confirmation in the Spring of 9th grade. For current 8th graders, registration for the first option will begin in January 2016 anticipating Confirmation in Fall 2016. Additional information will be provided in the parish bulletin as plans are finalized.
As always, I pray that God continue to bless us with all that we need, and more.
On this holiday weekend, we celebrate the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time and continue our chronological reading of St. Mark’s gospel. Our current chapter, Chapter 7, represents a shift in Jesus’ public ministry. Up to this point, he has taught and healed among his own people. In this chapter he makes a definite turn toward the Gentiles. Mark tells us that Jesus went into the district of the Decapolis, a group of ten cities in Gentile lands. As Jesus heals the deaf and mute man (someone who was a foreigner), we realize that even the deaf hear the message of the dawning Kingdom of God and even the mute can proclaim it. God’s plan for human wholeness extends to Gentile as well as Jew.
Labor Day is filled with many different memories and meanings. For many of us it signals the end of summer and all that is associated with summer. It is the time for the last fling outdoors. It is a time for a BBQ with family and friends. It is the weekend the summer home is closed. It is the weekend the boat is pulled out of the water and placed in storage. It is the time for moving from one season of the year to another. The holiday itself, “Labor Day,” gives us a chance to take a day off from work and reflect on the meaning of labor.
This weekend we pause to thank God for the ways in which we participate in the act of creation through significant and fruitful work. We also pray for those who are looking for work at this time. As is our custom on civil holidays, we will celebrate a single Mass on Monday at 9:00am in the Church. Our parish offices will be closed in observance of the Labor Day holiday.
There is a story told of an elderly man who was in the hospital admitting office. As this was his first admit to this hospital, the clerk behind the desk was taking his vital information. When she got down to the “Religion” blank, she asked him, “Do you have a religion preference?” He paused for a moment and said, “I have often thought about being a Catholic, but no one ever asked me about it before.”
I share this story because we are beginning another Inquiry Series next Sunday, September 13th. We heard previous RCIA participants speak of their experiences at each Mass last weekend. Now it is time to invite others to experience God’s presence just as we have. Do you know someone who is searching for that something deeper in life that our faith can offer? Do you know someone who is looking for a church home where they are welcome and can belong? Do you know someone who may already be coming to Sunday Mass but has not taken any steps to become part of the Church? Or maybe someone who has a child in 2nd Grade who will be celebrating First Eucharist in the spring and they are beginning to wonder about their own situation. Perhaps all that any of these people need is an invitation to consider the Catholic faith and you could be the person to extend the invitation! God can work through the invitation.
The long holiday weekend gives us a wonderful opportunity to offer our St. Isidore Kairos 12 weekend. Our leaders have been preparing for this since mid June. The retreat is taking place at the Carmelite Spiritual Center in Darien. It began on Friday night with a 5:30pm send-off at the church. Presentations, sharing times and other activities then began at the retreat center and continue throughout the weekend. I will return from the retreat on Saturday afternoon to celebrate a wedding and again on Sunday morning to celebrate the 7:00 am parish Mass. Father Matt and Father Clive will join us on Sunday evening for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Our group will return to the parish on Monday evening. Throughout the weekend, we remember in prayer our parish teens and adult leaders who are experiencing the St. Isidore Kairos 12. We have large Kairos prayer banners available in the Narthex throughout the weekend. Anyone who would like to add their signatures to these prayer banners is welcome to do so. Fathers Matt & Clive will bring the prayer banners with them to the retreat center when they come on Sunday evening. Thank you for your prayerful support and encouragement of our young people during this special time in their lives.
We are seeing good progress with our parish’s response to this year’s Joliet Diocesan Catholic Ministries Annual Appeal. We have already payed $135,172 towards our pledges of $178,138. The Catholic Ministries Appeal is the major source of funding for most of our Diocesan ministries and charities. Thank you to the 1073 households who have already responded. If you have not had an opportunity to make your personal response to the Annual Appeal, please consider doing so as soon as possible. Diocesan ministries and charities depend upon our continued generosity.
Enjoy the holiday weekend. May God continue to bless us with all that we need, and more.
Father Jim Murphy