FROM THE PASTOR’S CORNER:
A word from Pope Francis ~ “The gift of the Holy Spirit has been bestowed in abundance so that we may live lives of genuine faith and active charity.”
Today we celebrate the 24th Sunday in the season of the Ordinary Time of the Year. In our sequential reading of Matthew’s Gospel this year, we hear Jesus’ teachings on life in a Christian community and echoes the statement from the Our Father, “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Jesus gave us this prayer very early in Matthew’s Gospel – during the Sermon on the Mount. He taught us then that if we want to be forgiven, we must be willing to forgive each other. For Jesus, there is no situation in which we might be justified in withholding forgiveness. He returns to this theme several chapters later in the parable of the unforgiving servant. Human nature being what it is, we can be very eager to accept God’s incredible and unbelievable gift of forgiveness and also be very stingy in our willingness to share the gift we have received with those who have hurt us. For one who is a disciple of Jesus, holding a grudge or seeking revenge is not an option. Even in situations where the other person has not asked for forgiveness, we are still obligated to forgive. Why? Because we have been forgiven. Since God has given us such a tremendous and undeserved gift in forgiving us, we are obliged to share that gift with others. Since being a disciple is a life-long call, we should be making our response to the Lord’s invitation better today than yesterday, and tomorrow better than today. As we grow in our awareness of being forgiven, our desire and willingness to forgive each other should also grow.
Now that we are past the Labor Day holiday, we welcome back all those who have spent the summer weekends away. In spite of the presence of the coronavirus pandemic, a number of our parishioners were able to spend the summer weekends out of town. When I was growing up, my family had a summer home on Delavan Lake in Wisconsin. Summer weekends and holidays were always spent “at the lake.” We were very familiar with the summer Mass schedules of both St. Andrew’s church in Delavan and St. Benedict’s church in Fontana. Both parishes became our summer parish as we would go to whichever church offered the next scheduled Sunday Mass. We would return to our home parish of St. John the Baptist in Winfield on the Sunday following Labor Day. I was always amazed to learn what had happened at my home parish during that period we were “at the lake” between Memorial Day and Labor Day. It was easy to losetouch with our home parish while we were at our summer parishes. If this experience sounds familiar, if you have been attending another parish “at the lake” this summer, we are very happy to welcome you back home. If your summer Mass attendance took a vacation during the summer months, we are also glad to have you back with us. And if someone feels uncomfortable at the thought of joining with others in the same room for Mass, please join us at our live-streamed Masses at 10:00am English or 1:00pm Spanish from the safety of your homes. Autumn and the start of the school year are a good time to recommit ourselves to faithfully joining with our parish community for Mass each weekend.
Thank you to our Knights of Columbus Father John Guiney Council for hosting our annual “Blue Mass” at the 10:00am Mass today. This is the fifth year we have done this. The “Blue Mass” takes its name from the blue uniforms worn by police, fire and emergency services personnel. The “Blue Mass” also serves as a remembrance of all the first responders who died during the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. A wise person once said that doing something for the first time is a novelty. Doing it a second time makes it a tradition. I am very happy that we are able to continue this tradition at our parish on the Sunday closest to the 9/11 anniversary. Thank you to all police, firefighters, Sheriff’s deputies, Emergency Medical Technicians and rescue workers who have joined with us today. We thank you for your service and ask God’s continued blessings upon you and those who were unable to be with us today. And thank you to our Knights of Columbus Council for introducing and continuing this “tradition” in our community.
Congratulations to our adult parishioners who participated in last year’s RCIA process and our Adult Sacrament program and are celebrating their Confirmation today with other adults at the Cathedral of St. Raymond Nonnatus in Joliet. They have been waiting quite some time for this day and now we welcome them as fully initiated members of our parish community.
Additional good news – as I was writing this column last Wednesday night, I received an email from the Diocese informing me that Bishop Ronald Hicks will be with us for the Confirmation Masses for our young people on Friday, October 9th at 7:00pm, Tuesday, October 13th at 7:00pm and Wednesday, October 14th at 7:00pm. We will be very happy to welcome our new Bishop to our parish to celebrate the postponed Confirmation Masses from last spring. The Faith Formation Office contacted our candidates last Thursday and began scheduling them for one of the three Confirmation Masses.
We are seeing good progress with our parish’s response to this year’s Joliet Diocesan Catholic Ministries Annual Appeal. The Catholic Ministries Appeal is the major source of funding for most of our Diocesan ministries and charities. We have reached our parish’s 2020 goal in pledges and have paid $141,283 towards our goal of $173,800. Thank you to the 832 donors who have already responded. Please be sure to keep up your payments to your pledge. The diocese is now in the process of contacting those who pledged to the Appeal last year, but have yet to pledge this year. Every pledge helps reach our paid goal this year. If you have not had an opportunity to make your personal response to the Annual Appeal, please consider doing so as soon as possible. Diocesan ministries and charities depend upon our continued generosity.
Please see our weekly bulletin posted on the parish website for additional news, additional notices posted on Flocknote and other notices on our parish Facebook page. We try to use as many social media vehicles as possible to keep everyone up-to-date with all that is happening here. May God continue to bless us with all that we need, and more.
Father Jim Murphy