A word from Pope Francis ~ “May the Virgin Mary help us so that, we do not allow ourselves to be distracted by external things, but make room in our hearts for the One who has already come and wants to come again to heal our illnesses and to give us his joy.”
On this first Sunday in May we continue our celebration of the Lord’s Resurrection with the Fifth Sunday of Easter. We move into the final part of the Easter season and turn our attention upon Jesus’ parting gift of the Holy Spirit. Last Thursday in the weekday cycle of Scripture readings, we began reading from the Farewell Discourse of John’s Gospel (John 13:16-17:26). This discourse covers five chapters in John’s Gospel and is situated at the Last Supper. It gives us a glimpse into the heart and mind of the Lord on the night before he died. In some respects, it can be viewed as Jesus’ Last Will and Testament – his departing wish for the community of his disciples, the church. From now until the end of the Easter Season on Pentecost Sunday, we will be reading from the Farewell Discourse.
As the Lord promises to remain with us by sending the gift of the Spirit, we have the opportunity to reflect upon the third of the three Sacraments of Initiation we celebrated at the Easter Vigil – the Sacrament of Confirmation. During the recent interviews with our Confirmation candidates, I discussed with them the heart of the Sacrament of Confirmation – our call to be disciples of the Lord Jesus. As we explored what being a “disciple” really means – taking what was important to the Lord and making it important to us – we quickly realized that being a disciple in our day is not an easy path. Since the Lord also knew that, he promised to send us “another advocate” to be our helper and our guide. That advocate was none other than the Holy Spirit – sent to the early disciples and to us to be our strength. One of the ways that the Lord continues to be with us is through the gift of the Spirit, of which we have all received, beginning at our Baptism and deepened at our Confirmation. Becoming aware of the Spirit’s presence among us is a wonderful way for us to conclude our celebration of the Easter season. Let’s listen carefully during the next three weeks and appreciate the gift of the Spirit that has been given to us.
This weekend, we conclude our parish’s celebration of First Communion 2021. The third group Mass was celebrated yesterday morning. We will have additional individual celebrations at the 10:00am English and 11:30 Spanish and 1:00pm Masses today. Welcome to the table of the Lord! Congratulations to each of our First Communicants and their families and teachers who have brought them to this point in their lives.
Next weekend we will celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation at three individual Masses on Friday, May 7th and Saturday, May 8th. Bishop Frances Kane, retired Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Chicago will be with us for the May 8th 10:00am celebration. Bishop Hicks has delegated me to celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation at the 7:00pm Mass on May 7th and the 1:00pm Mass on May 8th. As we prayed throughout Lent for those entering the church at the Easter Vigil, so now we pray for our young people who are/will be celebrating Sacraments of Initiation in May.
We hope to inaugurate a new tradition in our parish today with a parish May Crowning at the 10:00am Mass. The grade school has had a tradition of having a May Crowning with the 8th grade students at a school Mass in May. Last year, when the parish campus was closed and we were live streaming Mass from the church, representatives from the Class of 2020 led us in a May Crowning on Mother’s Day. Since it was good to do that at a parish Mass, we wanted to continue that tradition this year and include representatives of the Council of Catholic Women and the CCW Woman of the Year. Representatives of our 8th Grade Class of 2021 and our Council of Catholic Women with lead us in our prayer. They will be joined by Angie Orlando (CCW Woman of the Year 2021) and Kathy Calero (CCW Woman of the Year 2020). The grade school will continue their tradition of a May Crowning at the school Mass on May 12th. I am happy to have our School and CCW join together in leading a parish May Crowning.
Thank you to all who have already pledged to the 2021 Joliet Diocesan Catholic Ministries Annual Appeal, and especially to those who recently returned their pledge cards to the diocese. Bishop Hicks has recently sent a letter to those families who have responded to the Appeal in the past but have yet to respond this year. Thus far 593 households have pledged $141,073 towards our parish goal of $167,300. And of the amount pledged, $105,042 has already been paid. That is incredible news, especially since the COVID restrictions required that all steps in this year’s Appeal be done through the mail. Thank you for taking the extra step by mailing your pledge cards back to the Diocese. If you haven’t had a chance to respond yet, please do so as soon as possible. Payments may be spread out over the next few months. Please join me and help us to reach our 2021 CMAA goal. We can do this with the participation of each family in our parish. Your generosity is deeply appreciated.
The DuPage Health Coalition has asked us to help publicize local access to the COVID vaccinations. Various sites are staffed by Jewel-Osco throughout our area. As the COVID vaccine becomes available to almost everyone, I want to encourage everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated. All three priests – Father Rey, Father Dandu and myself – are fully vaccinated. Most of our parish staff and school staff are either fully vaccinated or in process of reaching this point. We have been able to offer safe in-person Masses and availability to the sacraments for quite some time now by following the restrictions placed upon us for in-person prayer. Face masks and social distancing has been the norm. We would love to be able to increase the seating in our church so additional people may join us. For those to be relaxed, we need to increase the numbers of those who are fully vaccinated. Please take advantage of vaccine opportunities wherever you may find them.
Please see our weekly bulletin posted on the parish website for additional news, the 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