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.
As we saw in the 40 day season of Lent, there is a progression to our celebration of the 50 day season of Easter. Traditionally, the Easter season was the time when the local Bishop would gather with those who had been initiated into the church community at the Easter Vigil. At the Vigil, they celebrated all three Sacraments of Initiation – Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist. Often those being initiated were not given the details of what would happen to them during the Vigil. Rather, the church trusted that the symbols used in each sacrament would convey an experience of the Risen Lord’s presence. Only later did we take time to explain to the newly-initiated members of the church what had happened. It was an interesting progression – they experienced the Lord in the sacraments first, and received the explanation second. The Bishop would gather with the new Christians throughout the Easter season and provide the explanations. The Sunday and daily Scripture readings were arranged to guide them in their reflections throughout the Easter Season.
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 6th and May 13th with two First Communion Masses each day. Confirmation will be celebrated on Saturday, May 27, 2017, 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 2017 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 on the weekend just before Ash Wednesday. Our pledges support the work of the diocese, our larger church. Our CMAA goal this year is $173,968. Thus far, 816 households have pledged $154,561 towards our 2017 goal. 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.” Over the past few years we have seen an increase in the number of participants. While we surpassed our goal in paid pledges two years ago, we fell short of our goal last year by $3,938 with 1,047 households participating. In order to give everyone a chance to participate in the Appeal, our “Follow-Up In Pew Weekend” is will take place this weekend, April 29-30. As we did not want to interrupt our Lenten journey, we postponed our Follow-Up In Pew Weekend until now. If you haven’t had a chance to respond to the 2017 Joliet Diocesan Catholic Ministries Annual Appeal, this weekend is an ideal opportunity to join me and your fellow parishioners – 816 households – that have already responded. Your generosity is deeply appreciated and helps us meet our obligations to the larger Diocesan church.
A few weekends ago, Bishop Conlon asked us to announce that Father Matt Nathan is being appointed pastor at St. Alexis Church in Bensenville. This appointment is effective on June 21, 2017. At the same time, Father Juan José Hernandez, currently serving at St. Mary’s parish in West Chicago, will be assigned here as our new Parochial Vicar. We have been blessed to have had Father Matt serving our parish for the past four years. I am also very grateful that we will continue to have three full-time priests serving our parish. We will schedule a time to say thank you to Father Matt before his departure date.
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 capitol campaign, Honoring Our Roots, Cultivating Our Future. As some of the projects of that five year campaign are still in the works, please continue to honor your pledges. The campaign concludes in the summer of 2018. 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