As we gather on this Columbus Day holiday weekend, we celebrate the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time and continue our observance of Respect Life month. This weekend’s Gospel passage follows immediately on the end of last Sunday’s passage where Jesus stated that only those who accept the Kingdom of God like a child (with a sense of total dependence) will enter it. Mark continues Jesus’ teaching with an encounter with a rich young man who has since his youth been very faithful in keeping the commandments. When Jesus challenges him to let go of his possessions and share them with those in greater need, the young man turns away. The values of our world – wealth, power and status – do not put one on the fast track to the Kingdom. Again, we need to accept the Kingdom of God like a child – one who has no status and no rights, and is totally dependent upon on others for life and sustenance. We enter the Kingdom of God not by entitlement (good actions, material riches, prestige or power) but by total surrender and dependence upon God alone. For us it is impossible, but not for God!
Thank you for your prayers for us and all of the priests of our diocese as we gathered with our Bishops last week for our Joliet Priests’ Convocation. This year’s theme was “Renewing Parish Catechesis.” Archbishop Jerome Listecki from the Archdiocese of Milwaukee was our keynote speaker on Monday evening. Presentations were given on the following days by Dr. James Pauley and Sr. M. Johanna Paruch from the Catechetical Department of the Franciscan University of Steubenville. We also took time to honor the priests celebrating significant anniversaries this year. Thank you also to Deacon Larry who provided Communion services on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings while we were away.
The Convocation was a great experience for all of the priests of our diocese to be together with our Bishops. The spectrum ran from those newly ordained (Father Clive and his classmates) to those retired. As a group, we have a wide variety of talents and abilities. Despite these differences, we are all committed to doing the work of the Lord, each in our individual place and time.
Personally for me, it was good to see several of the priests I had served with in previous parishes. As we shared our memories, it became very clear to me that each of us had all been in the right place at the right time in our lives. Our prayer times together were powerful, especially the Masses we concelebrated with the Bishop. Everyone arrived on time, no one left early and everyone sang!
On a more sober note, I couldn’t help but notice that many of the priests who were young and vibrant when I was ordained 37 years ago were now moving at a much slower and more deliberate pace. And there were those who were no longer with us, either through death or those who have left active ministry. Overall, it was good to be together for prayer, sharing and fellowship.
We continue our observance of Respect Life Month with this year’s theme “Every Life is Worth Living.” Forty-three years ago the Catholic bishops in the United States designated October as Respect Life Month. Throughout this month, we are called in a special way to reflect on the gift of human life, the threats against it and how we can protect all persons from conception through natural death. One of the Respect Life initiatives of our parish begun a few years ago is our Expecting Parents’ Prayer List. It is normally printed in the bulletin. Any couple who is expecting the birth of a child can have their names and due date added to this prayer list by calling the parish office. This gives us an opportunity to support our expecting parents with our prayers.
Next Sunday we will have the opportunity to participate in the annual World Mission Sunday appeal. This is one of eleven special appeals in our Diocese over the course of the year. Funds collected through this appeal support the work of missioners throughout the world. The World Mission Sunday appeal is an excellent opportunity for us to support the needs of the larger church beyond our own parish and Diocese. As always, thank you for your generous support.
Our parish offices will be closed on Monday, October 12th, in observance of Columbus Day. We will reopen at 9:00am on Tuesday, October 13th. Enjoy the holiday.
Last week’s cooler temperatures have brought out the autumn colors. The beauty all around us is the Lord’s gift to us in this present moment. As always, we pray that God continue to bless us with all that we need, and more.
Father Jim Murphy