FROM THE PASTOR’S CORNER:
A word from Pope Francis ~ “Can you live crushed under the weight of the present? Without a memory of the past and without the desire to look ahead to the future by building something, a future, a family? Can you go on like this?”
Today we celebrate the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. This feast marks the end of the Christmas/Epiphany cycle of the church year. On Monday we begin the cycle of ordinary Time, wearing green vestments and celebrating the First Week in Ordinary Time. Soon our Sunday Gospel reading will begin our continuous reading of Matthew’s Gospel. This first part of the Ordinary Time cycle will last until Ash Wednesday on February 26th. The end of the holidays and the beginning of Ordinary Time does not mean that less than exciting things are happening in our lives. If our Christmas celebrations taught us anything, it is that God seeks to break into our lives in familiar, everyday ways. We are still called to grow closer to our God, but in ordinary, unspectacular ways.
Jesus’ Baptism was the inauguration of his mission in our world, his acceptance of his vocation. This is a good opportunity for us to focus on church vocations – those that arise from Baptism as well as those that are lived in the diaconate, priesthood and religious life. We now have the 2019-2020 Joliet Seminarian poster displayed in our church, chapel and school. The poster highlights the fact that our diocesan seminarians come from parishes much like our own. Today’s Feast of the Lord’s Baptism reminds us of the importance of praying for our young people and religious vocations from our parish. Vocations come from parishes much like our own!
With bulletin deadlines coming early to accommodate the holidays, we were not able to share recent developments with the health of Bishop Daniel Conlon. We received word on Monday, December 23 that Bishop Conlon had a health incident during Mass at the cathedral on Sunday, December 22nd and was hospitalized. On Friday, December 27th, we received word from the diocese that Bishop Conlon had received permission from Pope Francis to take a medical leave of absence, effective immediately. During his absence, Bishop Richard E. Pates, retired Bishop of Des Moines, IA, will serve as Apostolic Administrator of the diocese. In a letter addressed to the priests of the diocese, Bishop Conlon assured us that his health concerns are not life-threatening and asked for our prayers. We join with the rest of the diocese in offering our prayers for both Bishop Conlon and our Apostolic Administrator, Bishop Pates. God bless them with everything that they need.
The annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity begins next Saturday, January 18th and concludes the following Saturday, January 25th – the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle. Since 1968 we have joined with other Christians throughout the world in praying as the Lord prayed, “that all may be one”(John 17:21). I suppose it is human nature to focus our attention on what divides us rather than on what we share in common. This annual week of prayer gives us the opportunity to recognize that there is more that unites us rather than divides us. Throughout this week we will keep the cause of Christian unity before us in our community prayer. To conclude this week, we will gather with the other Christian churches of our area for an ecumenical prayer service On Saturday, January 25th at 6:30pm at St. Andrew United Methodist Church in Carol Stream. Let us all, each in our own way, beseech the Lord to restore unity to the church.
Even though the 2019 Catholic Ministries Annual Appeal 2019 concluded at the end of the year on December 31, 2019, we are still able to make final payments on outstanding pledges. Our parish goal for the 2019 CMAA was $180,100. The report that we received last week indicated that while we had exceeded our goal in pledges ($185,688), we had only paid $171,533 towards those pledges. That means that we are a little over $8500 short in reaching our goal in paid pledges. If you made a pledge to the 2019 Catholic Ministries Annual Appeal and have not fulfilled your pledge, please do so as soon as possible. We are very close to reaching our 2019 parish goal. Thank you to those who have already fulfilled their pledges to this year’s Appeal. If you were not able to make a pledge to the 2019 Appeal, it is not too late to join the 933 donors of our parish who have made a commitment. There is still time for us to succeed in meeting our responsibilities to the larger diocesan church. Diocesan ministries and charities depend upon our continued generosity.
As we conclude our celebration of the Christmas Season this weekend and move into the season of Ordinary Time, we are invited to recognize and celebrate God’s presence in the ordinary and routine moments of our lives. It is a time of thanksgiving and grace. May God continue to bless us with everything that we need, and more.
UFather Jim Murphy