A word from Pope Francis ~ “Worshipping the Lord means giving Him the place the He must have; worshipping the Lord means starting, believing – not only by our words – that He alone truly guides our lives; worshipping the Lord means that we are convinced before Him that He is the only God, the God of our lives, the God of our history.”
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 Mark’s Gospel. This first part of the Ordinary Time cycle will last until Ash Wednesday on February 17th. 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 2020-2021 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.
As we continue the celebration of our parish’s 100th anniversary, it is good to remember that Father Charles Banks, OMI was the first native son of St. Isidore’s to be ordained a priest. He returned to our parish on July 10, 2016 to celebrate his 50th anniversary of priestly ordination. His parents, Elsie and Edward Banks were married here in 1938. Father Charles was baptized here in 1939 by Father John Ott, our second pastor. He attended St. Isidore School and graduated in 1953. He later entered the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate and was ordained a priest in 1966. He currently serves as the retired religious superior of the Oblate Community in San Antonio, TX. Today’s Feast of the Lord’s Baptism and remembering Father Charles’ story 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!
Today, January 10th, is the 39th anniversary of the death of Bishop Romeo Blanchette, the second Bishop of our Diocese of Jolliet. Tuesday, December 22nd marked the fifth anniversary of the death of Bishop Joseph L. Imesch, the third Bishop of Joliet. These anniversaries of the deaths of bishops who have served our diocese and who many of us may remember invite us to likewise prayerfully remember the priests and deacons of our Diocese who died during 2020. We prayerfully remember Bishops Blanchette and Imesch on their anniversaries as well as each of the priests and deacons who have died this past year.
As we celebrate a Day of Prayer for Vocations, I offer a Prayer for Vocations by Pope Francis:
God our Father, You made each of us to use our gifts in the Body of Christ. We ask that You inspire young people whom You call to priesthood and consecrated life to courageously follow Your will. Send workers into Your great harvest so that the Gospel is preached, the poor are served with love, the suffering are comforted, and Your people are strengthened by the sacraments. We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Now that we have said goodbye to 2020 and begun the New Year, 2021, we look to the future with hope. We pray that God continue to bless us with everything that we need, and more.
Father Jim Murphy