A word from Pope Francis ~ “The Holy Spirit gives us the strength we need to achieve holiness in the midst of our everyday lives.”
Every once in a while a major feast on our church calendar falls on a Sunday in Ordinary Time. Whenever that happens, the celebration of the major feast replaces the normal Sunday celebration. Today the Sunday celebration is displaced by the solemnity of the Birth of John the Baptist.
As the infancy narrative in Luke’s Gospel tells it, Elizabeth and Zachariah conceived John the Baptist six months before Gabriel appeared to Mary to announce the conception of Jesus. For that reason, the celebration of John’s birth is placed in the calendar six months before Christmas, the birth of Jesus. It is also interesting that today’s feast falls shortly after the summer solstice. Last Thursday, the first day of summer, was the longest day of the year. From this time of year on, the days grow shorter. Christmas falls shortly after the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. From Christmas onward, the days grow longer. This is particularly interesting when we remember a major theme of John’s preaching, “He must increase; I must decrease.” Next Sunday we will return to our regular celebration of the “green Sundays” of the year – Ordinary Time.
Thank you for the gratitude and good wishes you expressed to Father Clive last weekend as he took leave of our parish community. Three years ago the newly-ordained Father Clive Otieno was assigned to serve as a Parochial Vicar at our parish. Newly-ordained priests are normally assigned to their first parish for a three year term and then transferred to a second parish for additional experience before being assigned as a pastor within the diocese. We were blessed to have had Father Clive as a Parochial Vicar for his first three years as a priest. We have watched him grow in both his identity as a priest and in his confidence as a priest. He goes to St. Walter’s with all of the parish experiences he had with us here at his first assignment. While any new experience can be a cause for anxiety, I am very confident that Father Clive will serve very well at his new assignment. As he shared his parting thoughts with us at each Mass last weekend, Father Clive told us that his top three greatest joys as a priest are presiding at the Eucharist, celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation and teaching in our Adult Faith Formation programs. At the end of the 1:00pm Mass, I presented him with his name plate from the door of the Reconciliation Room and thanked him for his compassion in the many hours he celebrated the Sacrament of Reconciliation with us over the past three years. We have been blessed by his ministry among us. Again, thank you for the many expressions of gratitude and affection you shared with Father Clive last weekend.
As last Wednesday, the third Wednesday in June, was the actual transfer and moving date for priests serving in our diocese, we said farewell to Father Clive and welcomed Father Rey Treyes as our new Parochial Vicar. Father Rey is a native born Filipino, ordained in the Philippines and served as a missionary before coming to the Diocese of Joliet in 2000. He has previously served as Pastor of Immaculate Conception parish in Gilman and St. Peter parish in Piper City. As Father Clive was moving out, Father Rey was moving in. He will introduce himself at each Mass this weekend and we will have the opportunity to welcome him to our parish community. We continue to pray for all those priests who moved to a new parish assignment this month. .
This Friday, June 29th, we celebrate another major feast on our church calendar, the feast of Sts. Peter & Paul. Peter was one of the original twelve apostles and along with James and John, was with Jesus at the most significant moments in his ministry. Paul, originally a Pharisee, was called by the Lord to be the apostle to the Gentiles. Paul led the early missionary efforts of the church beyond the borders of Israel into Asia, Europe and ultimately Rome. These two apostles are among the “giants” of the early church.
As we celebrate their feast day on Friday, it is important for us to remember the struggles and the failures they each faced in the early days of the church. We look to them as examples of Christian living as we follow the same path as disciples of the Lord. On Friday we celebrate a feast in honor of two passionate, human examples of Christian life.
This weekend we have the opportunity to participate in the annual “Peter’s Pence” appeal. This collection helps to fund the Holy Father’s personal efforts at caring for the needy and suffering of our world. In response to this appeal, we will tithe 5% of this weekend’s collection to the Peter’s Pence collection. Please adjust your weekly contribution accordingly. Anyone who wishes to contribute more than 5% to this appeal is welcome to use the envelope included in pack received in the mail, or use one the white envelopes in the pew racks.
As we end our fiscal year on Saturday, I want to thank you for your regular and faithful support of our parish through your Sunday offerings. The Sunday collection is our primary source of income for our parish. Your generosity makes it possible for us to do all that we do here at St. Isidore.
Enjoy the blessing of summer. May God continue to bless us with all that we need, and more.
Father Jim Murphy