As we celebrate the Fifth Sunday of Easter this weekend, we move into the final part of the Easter season and turn our attention upon Jesus’ parting gift of the Holy Spirit. Last Thursday in the weekday cycle of Scripture readings, we began reading from the Farewell Discourse of John’s Gospel (John 13:16-17:26). This discourse covers five chapters in John’s Gospel and is situated at the Last Supper. It gives us a glimpse into the heart and mind of the Lord on the night before he died. In some respects it can be viewed as Jesus’ Last Will and Testament – his departing wish for the community of his disciples, the church. From now until the end of the Easter Season on Pentecost Sunday, we will be reading from the Farewell Discourse.
As the Lord promises to remain with us by sending the gift of the Spirit, we have the opportunity to reflect upon the third of the three Sacraments of Initiation we celebrated at the Easter Vigil – the Sacrament of Confirmation. During the recent interviews with our Confirmation candidates, I discussed with them our call to be disciples of the Lord Jesus. As we explored what being a “disciple” really means, we came to the conclusion that being a disciple in our day is not an easy path. Since the Lord also knew that, he promised to send us “another advocate” to be our strength and our guide. That advocate was none other than the Holy Spirit – sent to the early disciples and to us to be our strength. One of the ways that the Lord continues to be with us is through the gift of the Spirit, of which we have all received, beginning at our Baptism. Becoming aware of the Spirit’s presence among us is a wonderful way for us to conclude our celebration of the Easter season. Let’s listen carefully during the next three weeks and appreciate the gift of the Spirit that has been given to us.
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 in just a few weeks 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 of our volunteers who were able to join us for our Volunteer Appreciation Night on April 15th. Our parish staff was honored to have been able to serve you during this evening. Special thanks to the St. Francis High School Chamber Choir for their performance before the dinner. I was happy that we were able to schedule them early in the evening so they could return to St. Francis in time for the Jazz Ensemble performance later that evening. The standing ovation they received was well deserved. We were also able to present the 2016 St. Isidore Farmer Awards. This award is presented to “parish volunteers who are leaders in planting seeds of faith, cultivating growth and sharing the harvest of the kingdom with all God’s people.” The 2016 Farmer Awards were presented to Maria and Angel Ayala, Ken Voelker and Judy and Larry Beckerdite. An additional Farmer Award was presented to Sharon and Deacon Larry Migliorato for their 30 years of service to our parish and 7 years as a deacon. They are retiring and will be moving to Florida within a month. Father Matt capped off the evening with a sample of his hip-hop dance talents which are now legend. It was a wonderful night!
Last Saturday’s 5:00pm Mass (April 16th) was one for the ages! The Illinois Knights of Columbus had a major gathering at Indian Lakes Resort during the day and over 350 people from that group joined with us for our 5:00pm Mass. They supplied an Honor Guard of 80 4th Degree Knights with the remainder seated throughout the church. From the opening chords of the entrance song, led by our choir, everyone felt the increased energy level in the church. The presence of our guests made for a standing room only congregation. The singing coming from the congregation, joined with our choir, added to the energy at that Mass. We were blessed to have been able to welcome our Knights of Columbus guests last weekend.
Signs of new life are all around us. Be sure to take time to notice the hand of God at work. May God continue to bless us with everything that we need, and more.
Father Jim Murphy