It doesn’t seem possible that we are now into July and enjoying the 4th of July holiday weekend. With the actual holiday falling on a Tuesday this year, many are having Monday off and are enjoying a long mid-summer holiday weekend to enjoy some summer activities with family and friends. As is our custom on civil holidays, we will celebrate a single Mass on Tuesday at 9:00am in the Church. As Father Clive became a citizen of our country last February, I have asked him to celebrate his first Fourth of July as a US citizen by presiding at our holiday Mass. Please join us for this special Mass as we give thanks to God for all the blessings and freedoms we experience in our country. It is a great way to begin the holiday. Our parish offices will be closed on Tuesday, July 4th, so that our staff may enjoy the day with their families. We will re-open on Wednesday, July 5th.
Thank you for the warm and hospitable welcome that you extended to Father Juan Jose Hernandez last weekend. Changing parish assignments and moving is one of the most difficult things we face as priests. Your genuine welcome last weekend was certainly a blessing to Father Juan Jose. Thank you for doing all that you did to help him feel at home among us.
This weekend is the first weekend of our new fiscal year and the first anniversary of the launching of our “5% Plan.” Following several weeks of publicizing this Stewardship change in our parish, we began the practice of tithing 5% of each Sunday’s Offerings to various causes and charities beyond our parish on the first weekend of July 2016. Behind this practice are our intentions to lead by example and to put our stewardship beliefs into practice in our parish. Thank you for your generous response. We will continue to announce our 5% beneficiary at the beginning of each Mass each weekend.
July is a very welcome month in the life of a parish. It is a chance for many of us to catch our breath. It has felt like we ran a marathon from Ash Wednesday to the last day of school. Committees, boards and councils normally do not meet during July. The Administrative staff of our parish school is off during July and the school office is closed. Parish staff people have an opportunity to get away for some well-earned vacation time. It is also a good time for us to catch up on things that may have worked their way to the bottom of the pile or been pushed to the back burner. It is a good opportunity to step back and take a look at the “big picture.” So often we surround ourselves with constant activity that we can easily loose sight of the forest for the trees. It is time to catch our breath and get back in touch with our roots.
The slower pace of July also provides a good time to attend to some projects around the parish. The major projects this summer are replacing the boiler in the Chapel (also heats the school) and the furnace and A/C unit in the Parish Office. Additional preventive maintenance and school projects are on the To Do list. This summer’s projects are not as visible as in past summers when we replaced the lights in the parking lot or resurfaced the lots. But these behind the scenes projects are just as important as the ones which draw a huge notice.
Here is an interesting example of the amazing ways God works in our parish. Three years ago (2014) we were involved in the major repurposing of the Chapel building as we relocated our Connect Youth Ministries in existing parish space. Our rental lease at the LINK expired and we moved the school library up to the second floor of the Chapel building. This also gave us four break out areas for small group meetings for Connect Youth Ministry. Since the initial plans did not call for any work to be done within the Chapel, weddings were scheduled during that summer in the Chapel. Once we discovered that the water would be shut off in the entire building during the remodeling, we needed to find a way to move the scheduled weddings from the Chapel to the Church. Our regular Sacrament of Reconciliation time on Saturday afternoons, 3:30-4:30pm, prevented us from scheduling weddings after 2:00pm. It was Father Josh Miller, our Parochial Vicar at the time, who offered a solution. He remembered from his time at St. Peter & Paul parish in Naperville that they scheduled the Sacrament of Reconciliation after their Saturday morning Mass so that they could celebrate weddings later in the afternoon. We tried that alternative for that summer – scheduling the Sacrament of Reconciliation from 8:45am to 10:00am and scheduling weddings at 1:00pm and 3:00pm. The 3:00pm weddings were finished by 4:30pm, which gave us time to prepare for the regular 5:00pm Mass. To our surprise, the morning time for the Sacrament of Reconciliation was a better time than the previous afternoon time. So many people came for the morning time that we had to regularly schedule two priests to accommodate those who wanted to celebrate the Sacrament. After the remodeling was done and the school year began, we kept the Saturday morning time for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We continue to have a large group of people coming at that time on most Saturdays that we now regularly schedule two priests to be available for the Sacrament. And most Saturdays, we are busy the entire time until 10:00am. If it had not been for the construction project that summer of 2014, we would not have looked for an alternative time for the Sacrament of Reconciliation!
Now that the summer months have arrived, our parish staff normally shifts into our summer hours. We are continuing our practice of closing the parish offices on Fridays during July. One of our staff will be on duty for telephone calls and deliveries. This practice gives our staff some additional time for family activities.
Have a safe and blessed holiday weekend. May God continue to bless us with all that we need, and more.
Father Jim Murphy