A word from Pope Francis ~ “We need a Church capable of walking at people’s side, of doing more than simply listening to them; a Church which accompanies them on their journey.”
Today we celebrate the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time of the Year. In our sequential ready of Mark’s Gospel this year, we see Jesus asking his disciples “who do you say that I am?” He uses their response as an opportunity to describe his coming rejection, suffering and death in Jerusalem. Chances are the disciples were expecting a military Messiah who would confront the Romans and expel them from their country. Jesus’ vision of a suffering Messiah is too much for Peter who vehemently objects and in turn is rebuked by Jesus. Jesus’ response to Peter is clear: if you wish to deny a suffering Messiah, you set yourself in direct opposition to him and his mission. If you are truly a disciple, you will follow your master in word and action, even to death, giving over your life in trust to God who will ultimately save you. The question is ultimately put to us – do we truly understand who we follow and do we truly choose to do so?
Now that we are past the Labor Day holiday, we welcome back all those who were able to spend 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 lose touch 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 being with others in the same room for Mass, please join us at our live-streamed Masses at 10:00am English or 11:30am Spanish Mass 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 sixth 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. 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.
We begin a new season with the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) today. This meeting is the beginning of the process that will lead us to Easter 2022. A few weeks ago, I mentioned that many of the adults who enter the Church through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) do so because someone else invited them to consider the Catholic faith. Many of the people who are gathering today are here because someone else invited them to consider our Catholic faith. These inquiry meetings continue next week at 11:00am in the Father Guiney meeting room and are offered in both English and Spanish. It is not too late to join this group. There are no costs or additional obligations. Perhaps all another person needs is an invitation to consider the Catholic faith. If you know someone who may be searching, please invite them to our Sunday morning meetings. If you would like additional information, please call Leonor Carvajal at 630-529-3045.
We are making slow but steady 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. As the pandemic did not allow us to do an in-pew appeal this year, only 658 households have responded thus far, pledging $153,666 towards our parish goal of $167,300. Thank you to those who have already responded. Last year we had a total of 832 households participating in the appeal. If you have not made your pledge to this year’s appeal, we need you! Every pledge helps reach our goal in supporting the ministries and charities of the diocese – especially the costs of educating our seminarians. Diocesan ministries and charities depend upon our continued generosity.
May God continue to bless us with all that we need, and more.
Father Jim Murphy