Today we continue our celebration of Christmas with the feast of the Epiphany of the Lord. This feast is celebrated on our church calendar on the Sunday following January 1st. The traditional date for this feast is the 12th day of Christmas, January 6th. This feast of the Magi or the Three Kings commemorates the Lord’s first manifestation to people outside of the Jewish people. The Magi were foreigners, Persians and astrologers. And as foreigners, they were not included in God’s original covenant with Abraham and the Jewish people. Their presence at Jesus’ birth hints at one aspect of his ultimate mission of bringing salvation to all peoples. Fortunately, that also includes us.
We also celebrate today the first Sunday of the New Year, 2016. This new beginning gives us a fresh, new start with many new opportunities for personal and spiritual growth. It seemed that many of the recent “2015 Year in Pictures” segments in the newspapers and periodicals featured images of human suffering and pain, especially the violence related to mass shootings across the country. These images seem to call us back to the basics, to the things that really matter. Family and faith are at the head of that list of things that really matter. Also high on the list are the relationships that sustain us and give us life. These past few weeks of the Christmas season have given us many different opportunities to reconnect with those who are important in our lives. We realize that our faith, which gives us direction and purpose, and our relationships, which give us life, do matter the most. I hope that these truly important aspects of life influence our New Year’s resolutions this year.
We have had our 2016 parish calendars available in the Narthex since the beginning of Advent when we began the new Church Year. We still have copies available in both English and Spanish. I want to thank the Salerno family and the Salerno’s Rosedale Chapels for their generosity in providing our parish calendars again this year.
Next Sunday is the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. Jesus’ Baptism was the inauguration of his mission in our world, his acceptance of his vocation. This is a good opportunity for us to focus on church vocations – those that arise from Baptism as well as those that are lived in the diaconate, priesthood and religious life. We now have the new 2015-2016 Joliet Seminarian poster displayed in our church, chapel and school. The poster highlights the fact that our diocesan seminarians come from parishes much like our own.
Next Sunday, January 10th, is the 34th anniversary of the death of Bishop Romeo Blanchette, the second Bishop of our Diocese of Jolliet. Bishop Conlon will celebrate a Mass at the Cathedral on that day at 11:00am in memory of Bishop Blanchette and all the priests & deacons who died this past year. We prayerfully remember Fathers Joseph Butters, Carroll Howlin, Michael Danek, CR, J. Anthony Meis, Gerold Schubert, OFM, and Odilio Crkva, OSB, and Deacons Serafin Molinaro and Frank Foys.
Finally, I want to thank all of you, the members of our St. Isidore parish family for your continued support of our many, many parish ministries and activities. I also want to thank you for your faithful financial support. Not only were you very generous in your Christmas offerings, but you are also very generous in responding to our Stewardship Recommitment last fall, and very faithful in honoring your pledges to our capitol campaign, Honoring Our Roots, Cultivating Our Future. Thank you for being so faithful in your weekly support of the parish through your regular Sunday offerings. Without your continued support, we could not provide all of the ministries, activities and programs that make us such an alive and active parish community. Another area that we can be proud of is our response to the 2015 Joliet Diocesan Catholic Ministries Annual Appeal. For many years our response has fallen short of our diocesan goal. This past year we have surpassed our goal in paid pledges to the diocese. We will receive a 60% rebate of pledges paid over our goal. I have committed our CMAA rebate to go to our service ministries, including Feed My Starving Children. This past year has been a good year for our parish.
I also want to thank you for the volunteer services you provide. Our liturgies, our spiritual ministries to the homebound and infirm, including the area nursing homes, our social outreach ministries, our parish social functions, and our religious and educational activities could not be provided without the many volunteers who provide their time, service and talents to accomplish these tasks.
Now that we have said goodbye to 2015 and begun the New Year, 2016, we look to the future with faith and hope. We pray that God continue to bless us with everything that we need, and more.
Father Jim Murphy