This is a full weekend. Besides our celebration of the Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time and the first weekend in February, we have Sunday evening’s Super Bowl LI game between the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. Even though our hometown Bears ended their season with their last regular season game, most of us will find ourselves gathering with family and friends for the traditional Super Bowl parties. It is a great time to gather with each other in the middle of winter.
Even though the cold winter temperatures caught up with us as last week wore on, our yearly celebration of Catholic Schools Week was a great celebration. Thank you to all who helped make the various events throughout the week so memorable. The St. Isidore School community did a wonderful job in providing the music for last Sunday’s 8:30am Mass. It was great to have our young people lead us in our sung prayer. And student representatives joined with our principal, Mrs. Cyndi Collins at each of our Sunday Masses, in thanking the parish community for our support of the school.
When I celebrated the Grade School Mass last Wednesday, I had the chance to thank the men and women who serve on our Grade School faculty and staff. It was interesting to tally the combined years of service given to the St. Isidore parish community by our school faculty and staff – approximately 285 years of service in Catholic education at our school and 330 years of service in Education overall. This is an astounding number of years of service to our parish through our school, especially when we remember that our country will be only 241 years old this July!
I also had the opportunity to celebrate the Catholic Schools Week Mass at St. Francis High School in Wheaton last Thursday. With the number of active priests in our diocese, many of us wear multiple hats beyond our parish responsibilities. In addition to serving on the Joliet Diocesan Vocation Team, I also serve on the St. Francis High School Board of Directors. We currently have 47 students from St. Isidore at St. Francis.
Our St. Isidore Kairos 14 (STIK XIV) will be taking place in just 2 weeks! This is an incredible retreat experience for high school juniors and seniors. Kairos has been a significant part of my life, beginning in my early years as a priest. It is an experience that I am personally committed to. We are truly blessed to be able to offer this retreat at the parish level. Normally, it is only available to Catholic High School students as it is offered through their school. But here at St. Isidore, through Connect Youth Ministries, Kairos is available to all of our junior and senior year high school students. The team of teen and adult leaders has been meeting over the past few months in preparation for STIK XIV. It will be held over the Presidents’ Day holiday weekend – February 17-20 at LaSalle Manor Retreat Center in Plano. We are issuing a “last call” for participants. Teens – if you are currently a Junior or Senior, don’t miss this unique retreat opportunity. Parents – if you have a current junior or senior, do everything you can to get your teen on this retreat. It is only offered twice a year. Registration Forms are available at the Hospitality Desk, the Faith Formation Office and online at the parish website.
Many of us have already received Bishop Conlon’s invitation to participate in the 2017 Joliet Diocesan Catholic Ministries Annual Appeal (CMAA). The theme for this year’s appeal is “Held in God’s Hands.” Appeal materials were mailed to our homes over the past two weeks. A number of people have already returned their commitments to this year’s Appeal. Announcement Weekend and Commitment Weekend will take place over the last two weekends of the month. While we don’t get any “extra credit” for responses before the In-pew Sign Up weekend, early responses can give us a positive boost toward reaching this year’s goal. As I prefer to lead by example, my pledge has already been sent in. I am asking you to join me in fulfilling our responsibilities to our larger, Diocesan Church. Please make a commitment to the 2017 CMAA at the highest level you are able to.
For many of us, the winter has been a long one thus far. Stretches of sunless days have taken their toll. Still, the days are getting longer. Lent will begin in another month, followed by Easter and spring. Notice the signs of new life all around us and take hope. As always, may God continue to bless us with all that we need, and more.
Father Jim Murphy