Today we mark the Third Sunday of Easter and continue to celebrate this great season of new life. During this past week, our weekday Gospel readings led us through John, Chapter 3. We saw Jesus’ encounter with Nicodemus and listened to his teaching on the need to be “born again.” It gave us the opportunity to reflect on and appreciate the gift of our Baptism. On Friday, we began reading from John, Chapter 6 – the great Bread of Life discourse. This is the beginning of our reflection on another of the Sacraments of Initiation that was celebrated at our Easter Vigil – the Sacrament of the Eucharist.
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 on May 7th and May 14th with two First Communion Masses each day. Confirmation will be celebrated on Saturday, May 28, 2016, 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.
Thank you to all who have already pledged to the 2016 Joliet Diocesan Catholic Ministries Annual Appeal, and especially to those who responded to Bishop Conlon’s homily and pledged during the in-pew “Commitment Weekend” last February. Our pledges support the work of the diocese, our larger church. Our CMAA goal this year is $171,242. Thus far, 747 households have pledged $133,488 towards our 2016 goal. In order to give everyone a chance to participate in the Appeal, our “Follow-Up In Pew Weekend” is scheduled for this weekend, April 9-10. The Campaign’s primary objective is participation. We are looking for 100% participation in the Catholic Ministries Annual Appeal, even if a family’s participation is “I do not wish to contribute at this time.” We were able to meet and surpass our parish goal last year with 1,111 households participating. If you haven’t had a chance to respond to the 2016 Joliet Diocesan Catholic Ministries Annual Appeal, please join me in responding to the 2016 Appeal as soon as possible. Your generosity is deeply appreciated.
Sometimes it is good to take a look back and remember what we were doing at this time in the past and to notice all of the different steps we took to get to this moment. Three years ago this month, we had received the report on the parish assessment we did in January 2013. In that assessment, we asked for your thoughts on what we should do concerning our off-campus youth center. Our lease was due to expire on May 31, 2014 and since the building had been sold, we were not able to renew the current lease. Our initial plans were to find a new location we could lease and move our youth center. That all changed when we heard your thoughts. Through the parish assessment, you told us “no new rentals” and to find a new home for our youth center using shared space in existing parish buildings. So, three years ago we were trying to find a way to do what you told us to do. Meeting followed upon meeting as we considered the options and possibilities. For a time it looked like an impossible task, like trying to force fifty pounds of sand into a twenty-five pound sack. But the final option emerged and we all know the rest of the story. Three years ago today ….
Two years ago this month saw us preparing for a ground breaking ceremony to launch our re-purposing project in our Chapel building. The “Honoring Our Roots, Cultivating our Future” capital campaign had been launched the previous October. Architects were consulted, construction drawings had been prepared, diocesan meetings were taking place and a final approval was in the works and bids for the summer project were being submitted. Two years ago today ….
Looking back just three years and two years ago helps us to appreciate all that has happened. From this point in time, we can clearly recognize God’s continued presence and blessing through it all. Our God is a faithful God!
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 Easter offerings, but you are also very faithful in honoring your pledges to our capital campaign, Honoring Our Roots, Cultivating Our Future. 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.
It finally looks as if spring is here to stay. This is a wonderful season of new life. As always, I pray that God continue to bless us with everything that we need, and more.
Father Jim Murphy