A word from Pope Francis: “Love is the greatest power for the transformation of reality because it pulls down the walls of selfishness and fills the ditches that keep us apart.”
On this first Sunday of May, we celebrate 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 (Confirmation and First Communion) during the Easter Season. We will celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation on Saturday, May 18, 2019, with two separate Masses at 10:00am and 1:00pm. As we have not received a new Auxiliary Bishop since Bishop Siegel was transferred to the Diocese of Evansville, IN in December 2017, Bishop Conlon has delegated me to celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation at our parish again this year. Our celebrations of First Communion began yesterday, May 4th, and will conclude next Saturday, May 11th. 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.
We had a great celebration last Friday (April 26th) at our Celebration of Gifts evening. Thank you to each one of our volunteers who joined us for this annual evening. We, your parish staff, were honored to serve you during our evening. We also had the opportunity to present the 2019 St. Isidore the Farmer Awards. Congratulations to our 2019 recipients – Julee and Mike Woodman, Trini and Totie Leonardo and Isabel and Enrique Avila. Each recipient has faithfully served our parish community in various ways according to their individual and unique talents, interests and abilities. It was a great evening to celebrate our parish.
Thank you to all who have already pledged to the 2019 Joliet Diocesan Catholic Ministries Annual Appeal, and especially to those who responded during our in-pew “Commitment Weekends.” Our pledges support the work of the diocese, our larger church. Our CMAA goal this year is $180,100. Thank you to the 787 households who have pledged $158,312 towards our 2019 goal. We reached our goal in paid pledges last year through the participation of 978 households. On April 22nd Bishop Conlon sent a follow up letter to encourage everyone’s participation. If you haven’t had a chance to respond, please join me and make your pledge as soon as possible. Your generosity is deeply appreciated and helps us meet our obligations to the larger Diocesan church.
As I continue to recover from an infection on my leg, I find myself taking “baby steps” in my return to ministry. Last weekend I celebrated my first Mass back at the 8:30am Mass. This weekend, I am scheduled for one of our First Communion Masses and a wedding on Saturday, and most likely a single Mass on Sunday. Father Rey, Father Juan Jose and our deacons continue to step up and cover at each of our Masses, funerals and additional prayer services. Special thanks to each of them for what they are doing. And thank you to you for your continued prayers and encouragement during my convalescence.
I hope we have seen the end of the snow this year. A new record was set in our area last Saturday for late season snow. We are ready for spring to finally come and stay! We need this 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