A word from Pope Francis ~ “Mercy is the force that reawakens us and instills in us the courage to look to the future with hope.”
We were blessed to have our 4th of July holiday fall mid-week last week. It gave us a welcome break in the middle of the week. And it seems we have had two 4th of July weekends – last weekend and now this weekend. Having both weekends to celebrate seems to have set a good tone for July. And the cooler weather gave us some good opportunities to enjoy the outdoors.
As we come to the second Sunday in this month of July, we also celebrate the 14th Sunday in the Ordinary Time of the Year. We have been making our way through the Gospel of St. Mark in our Sunday Gospel readings. Week by week, we are seeing Mark’s portrayal of Jesus’ ministry unfold before us. It certainly is an interesting journey.
Thank you for your patience during our recent seal coating of our parking lots. As the work was scheduled “weather permitting,” we were pushed back only a day due to the heavy rains we had on our first day. One of the instructions you gave in our parish assessment five years ago was to repair and resurface our parish parking lots. Your generosity in the early years of our capital campaign made it possible for us to do that. Four years ago we up graded and realigned the lights in the parking lots, installing energy-efficient LED lights. Three years ago we repaired and rebuilt the drains across the lots. And then two years ago we ground down the asphalt and resurfaced our lots. You told us what needed to be done and we did it. It was a major improvement to our parish campus. The seal coating work that we did last week was done as preventative maintenance. When water gets beneath the asphalt and winter comes, it freezes and expands breaking up the surface and creating pot holes. So the seal coating and re-striping work does more than give our lots a nice, finished look. It actually prevents water from settling beneath the asphalt and causing major problems come winter. This preventative maintenance step helps keep our parking lots in good condition.
We have also heard requests from time to time to add additional handicapped parking spaces to our main lot. Even though we already exceeded the number of handicapped parking spaces that we were required to provide, we often ran out of spaces at special sacramental celebrations when elderly extended family members joined us and at the 5pm Saturday Mass when many of our elderly parishioners attended Sunday Mass. Since we were re-striping the parking lot after the seal coating, we added an additional four handicapped parking spaces on the back side of the row closest to the church. We now have fourteen handicapped parking spaces in the lane closest to the church entrance. Again, you told us what needed to be done, we listened and then acted.
One of the blessings of our Catholic faith tradition is our practice of interceding and supporting each other through our prayer. We do that every time we gather for the Eucharist, especially during the Prayer of the Faithful. Since we are connected to each other in faith, it is important that we support those in need with our prayers. While we regularly remember those who are sick and those who have died, we have additional opportunities to request the prayers of our community. Our Parish Book of Prayer is located in the Narthex near the south doors entering the Church. All are welcome to indicate their prayer requests and intentions in our Parish Book of Prayer. We also have our prayer list for those who are engaged and preparing for Marriage. This list is printed weekly in our bulletin. And since we are a people who value life, our Respect Life Expecting Parents’ Prayer List is also in the bulletin. Should you wish to have anyone added to a particular prayer list, please call the Parish Office. This also includes a son or daughter marrying at another parish, or an out-of-town family member expecting a child. It is good for us to remember all of these intentions in our prayer.
Have you noticed how beautiful and attractive our parish grounds have become these past few weeks? The volunteers who work with in our “Patrons of the Vine” ministry are responsible for making our campus so attractive and welcoming. These are the folks who have cleaned up and maintain the gardens throughout our parish campus. They have done an incredible job in making our campus more attractive and welcoming. Did you know that we have a Peace Garden on the south side of the Church? It is truly a special place of tranquility and beauty. There is a picnic table and park bench within the garden. MaryLee and Dennis McConnell have adopted the Peace Garden and attend to it each week. Their care of the plants have made it one of the most beautiful places on our campus. Please stop by when you have a chance and enjoy the beauty and calm of this special place on our campus. The efforts of our volunteers in the “Patrons of the Vine” ministry are deeply appreciated and lift our hearts and minds to God as we make our way into the church for weekend Mass. Thank you again for all of your hard work.
Next Saturday, July 14th, we celebrate the seventh anniversary of the Installation of Bishop Daniel Conlon as the 5th Bishop of the Joliet Diocese. Now that the Bishop has been with us for seven full years, he has had the occasion to visit our parish numerous times. We are grateful for his service to our larger diocesan church and pray God’s continued blessings upon him.
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.
Continue to enjoy the blessings of the summer. May God continue to bless us with all that we need, and more.
Father Jim Murphy