July 30 – Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Having come from a big extended family, I learned a long time ago that I am a social being who depends on others for a better and more fulfilled life. This awareness has been a positive influence on my life as a seminarian. With this knowledge, from the day I joined Our Lady of Mercy as my home parish, I have been working on learning how to better relate with OLM parishioners. The OLM parishioners, with the help of our Pastor Fr. Michael, have helped me to become a balanced person who continually works at becoming a better person. Because of this, I am more prepared for the missions/ministries that await me in the future.

The ministries that I have been exposed to while here at OLM have been a means of responding to God’s call of praising and serving Him and His Church in the Diocese of Joliet. With honest discernment, I have been able to serve the sick and elderly by visiting and bringing them Holy Communion in their various assisted living facilities such as Thrive Hospital, Alden Gardens and Arbor Terrace. Also, I’ve had the opportunity to serve the Visitors (Homeless) at Hesed House. For me, the visitors at Hesed House are the very people who found special attention in the eyes of Christ, and still do through us today in the various ways that we respond to our ministry. My services at Hesed House and assisted living facilities have led me to feel closely linked with the ministry of Christ and in the way that he appears in the poor. The team that serves at Hesed House, and the Ministers of Care from OLM have both helped my Christian faith. I understand better that our faith is an invitation to see Jesus in the poor and the needy and to serve them.

My ministries at OLM have been very enriching, both by helping me grow in all aspects of life and giving me experiences that I can rely on in the future. Spiritually, I’ve been blessed to join in daily Eucharistic Celebrations with wonderful parishioners. It has been a gift to attend the Marian Crusade every Saturday with devoted men and women, lead Adoration at Waterleaf once every month, and join women for the Divine Mercy Chaplet and Rosary for Priests every day after our Eucharistic Celebration. These devotional groups at OLM have helped me recognize Christ’s presence in my journey of life, and the need for building a strong relationship with Christ.

Physically and socially, the Fit Shepherds and Bowling Team at OLM have helped me to put more effort into moving outside the box of my own nationality and grow in my openness to others. I am so grateful for this wonderful parish, with wonderful parishioners who invited me into their homes for prayers, lunch, and dinner. And thank you to those who took me to tour the great city of Chicago. As a seminarian in training, I treasure the memory of these experiences. Please continue to pray for me.  

Vincent Otieno