On November 1st the bishop of our Diocese, Bishop R. Daniel Conlon published his first ever pastoral letter to the people of our Diocese. Bishop is keenly aware of the challenges that face the church today. He writes about an important topic facing Catholicism today: how does the Catholic faith community within the seven counties of the Diocese of Joliet grow in the months and years ahead when statistics are showing that many are not attending Mass, and many are not celebrating the sacraments. In a world that seems less interested in God, and in a society wounded by many divisions, in what ways can the Catholic Church reach people with the Good News of Jesus Christ? In other words, how can we carry out, with the help of the Holy Spirit, Christ’s Great Commission to go and make disciples. Bishop writes about the way things were, the way things are, and the way things might be. Entitled, “Go, He Said”, the letter is published in the November issue of the Diocesan magazine Christ Is Our Hope which every parishioner receives, it is available on the parish and Diocesan websites in English or Spanish and on our parish APP. I encourage EVERY parishioner to read Bishop’s letter. His insights and questions will become areas of discussion among our staff, pastoral council, and other ministries.
The season of Advent begins in two weeks. One of the traditional symbols that is popular in many churches is the Advent wreath. The directives for the placement of the Advent wreath state that the Advent wreath may be placed in the narthex or gathering area, or near the ambo. One of the sources we consult for the liturgical environment suggests placing the Advent wreath in the area where the Christmas crèche will be placed. Last year was my first Christmas at OLM.
While directives state that the crèche is not to be placed in front of the altar, I thought the placement of the nativity figures, some on the steps of the sanctuary to the left, and others on the right, made it rather awkward to view and spend any time in prayer. So, I suggested to our Art & Environment Committee that we cover the baptismal font in the narthex and place the Christmas crèche there. That way all the figures can be together, the crèche will be higher so people can see it, and we can place a kneeler in front so people can stop and pray. So, following the suggestion that the Advent wreath be placed near where the Christmas crèche will be, this year the Advent wreath will be in the narthex at the baptismal font. I am sure the Art & Environment committee will display the wreath as elegantly and beautifully as they have in the past. Our baptisms scheduled during the Advent and Christmas seasons will take place in church using a large bowl for the actual baptism. Those parents who may be planning a baptism in January are encouraged to consider this option….The weekend of January 12 & 13 is the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord and concludes the Christmas Season. That weekend we are offering the opportunity to celebrate baptism DURING the Sunday Mass. If you are interested in doing that, please contact Diane in the parish office. We will baptize only one child at each Mass.
On behalf of our all staff, I wish you a blessed and joyful Thanksgiving celebration with family and friends this Thursday. Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!