January 10 – The Baptism of the Lord
Today we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord. In doing so, we end the Christmas Season and move from the manger to the river Jordan. The baptism Jesus received was not the Christian baptism that we received, most of us as infants. Unlike us, Jesus did not need to be freed from the stain of original sin. He was like us in all things, but sin. The baptism of Jesus inaugurated his public ministry. In Jesus’ baptism, he was revealed and affirmed as the beloved Son of God. In our baptism, we were affirmed as adopted sons and daughters of God. In Jesus’ baptism, God spoke the words “Listen to him.” And in our baptism, we are called to grow as disciples of Jesus and listen to him. Our baptism was not only for the removal of the stain or original sin, but also a commissioning to become a disciple of Jesus, and to make disciples of Jesus. Our parish mission is to give each and every person a life changing encounter with Jesus, to make disciples, and send them on mission. And that mission is not in foreign lands. We are called to bring to good news of Jesus to our family, our homes, our schools, our places of work, our neighbors, our local community. So, as we celebrate the baptism of Jesus, let us remember our own and what it calls us to do!
Today I would like to recognize one group who have responded to their baptismal call of discipleship. That group is our permanent deacons who have served us at Our Lady of Mercy Parish. I thank our deacons and their wives for their selfless service to our parish community and beyond. Deacon Tim Kueper (Gail); Deacon Tony Leazzo (Jennifer); Deacon Tony Martini (Allyson); Deacon Mike Plese (Laurie); Deacon Phil Rehmer (Jean); Deacon Art Tiongson (Babes). We appreciate you and your ministry!
As you know, Deacon Mike and his wife have recently moved to Tennessee. But God has provided! In early December, I met with Deacon Guadalupe (Lupe) Villarreal who recently moved with his wife Carmen to Aurora. Deacon “Lupe” as he is known, asked to transfer his assignment from St. Dennis in Lockport to OLM. I have agreed, and he starts next weekend. He was ordained a permanent deacon in 2007. Prior to serving at St. Dominic in Lockport, has served the parishes of St. Isidore in Bloomingdale, Divine Savior in Downers Grove, St. Dominic in Bolingbrook (where Fr. James was a deacon). He has been Catholic Chaplain at the DuPage County Jail for 10 years and conducts a weekly communion service there. He is Hispanic and bi-lingual and will be a great help as we minister to our bi-lingual parishioners. He and his wife have five adult sons. We welcome Deacon Lupe and his wife Carmen to Our Lady of Mercy!
Also on the Permanent Deacon front…We congratulate parishioners Michael Raiz (Mass Coordinator at Sunday 8:00am Mass) and Carlos Briceno (Fit Shepherds and editor of the Diocesan Magazine) who have been accepted into the Aspirancy program to be ordained permanent deacons. They join parishioners Doug McIlvaine and Buggsy Sindac who are in their second year of studies for the permanent diaconate.
Have a blessed week!